Guest blog by Tai Carmen at Parallax. Parallax: exploring the architecture of human imagination.
A mask of gold hides all deformities.” Thomas Dekker
“Boldness is a mask for fear, however great.” John Dryden
“Pride is the mask we make our faults.” Hebrew proverb
I don’t know about you, but people — and I’m talking strangers here, in herds, such as at the mall or the movie theatre — can look vastly different to me depending on my mental-emotional state. If I’m not careful, it’s easy for me to zigzag between goodwill and misanthropy depending on how I’m feeling about my own life that day.
On days where my outlook is darker, there’s a trick I pull on my perception that can pinch it back into a gentler take on humanity. I remember the feeling of my hardest moments — those moments when you’re just banging your head against a wall, all your hopes and dreams pitted against some seemingly invincible adversary — and I think of the soul-struggles, heart-pains and dark nights of these fellow humans whose stories I don’t know; their unimaginable losses, secret embarrassments and brave inner strivings.
It’s not as intense as it may sound. It’s just a quick trace memory revisited –a brief disciplined focus on the reality of our common suffering.
In that moment, if I really do it right, humanity transforms before my eyes. I regard the imperfections with tenderness. The annoying weaknesses and shortcomings are instantly forgiven. Feeling the warm touch of compassion and connection, I go from misanthrope to Mother Teresa.
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