Halloween has passed, and our masks are safely packed away. Or are they? Back east, where I grew up, even the trees are dropping their warm weather makeup to face the cold nights bare as bone. Leaves are right now falling from trees, and unless global warming has made a complete mess of things, entire wooded areas, dressed in deep green for the summer, have once again turned golden, red, and pumpkin colored before losing their entire costumes to the laws of nature. The trees, previously adorned in vibrant foliage, stand naked, bony branches exposed to the elements and to the eyes of passersby.
I feel like a tree being slowly unmasked. As each day passes, I watch another leaf fall to the ground. Id like to uphold the illusion that they all fall with grace, but they dont. Sure, some float gently down on a fragrant breeze. Some simply shrivel and decay until they quietly disappear. Still others cling like hell, holding out for a dramatic death by windstorm. But, one way or another, all masks finally do fall away. This marvelous adventure of authentic living, the life I pray for, does not, by its very nature, lend itself to pretense of any sort. Even my favorite masks hang in a closet of the past. Or so I like to think. Each time I convince myself I am finally authentic, once and for all, I find a hidden guise tucked away in my survival pack. Then, like a snake, I molt again; like the trees, I lose my leaves, and I wonder if it ever ends.
There is no need to resist as long as I have one thing in place: self-acceptance, a short label for a long journey. Like most things worth my time, its easy to say and less easy to live. Last week I awoke with zero tolerance for anything but full-disclosure truth, as I became aware of yet another trick Id bought from the cultural candy store, and my pen jumped into my hand demanding to open the cage and let out the sugar-coated beast. The following is an excerpt of my molting:
Im done. Done with cat-and-mouse games. Done with waking up and looking in the mirror, counting wrinkles, hiding flaws, control-top hose and push-up bras, enticing scents and come-hither glances. Im done with tried-and-true strategies which promise to attract a mate. The very words coy, demure, ladylike, modest, passive, and feminine leave me cold.
I prefer to be bold, real, strong, alive, robust, sexual, passionate, vital, and dynamic. Like a man. Like a jaguar. Down for the hunt. Awake and alert. Up for a challenge. Confident in my ability.
I need a lover wholl wrestle me like a caveman, like Jacob and his Angel, full throttle, locked in an all-life dance of deep importance, every physical and spiritual muscle gleaming with the sweat of our devotion to reveal ultimate truth. A sacrament, a pulsing heartbeat as testimony, as active commitment to Lifes core impulse.
These roles, these labels of roles, these masks and job descriptions of man and woman are a farce, a kindergarten primer designed to lure us to a sacred altar. Its time to throw them away and stop pretending weve not arrived.
Fully exposed, Ill be a love story of naked authenticity. Ill hunt my man in the night while he sleeps, his ego safely dreaming. Hell reach for me, surrendered, in his moments of dearest humility, and Ill be right there, as we offer ourselves, vehicles for each other on this noble quest. Well pray upon each other for a total realization of G-d, an inner union of mind/body/spirit, male/female, depraved/devoted, angel/animal, all seemingly disparate aspects fully alive as one at last, in a slow, sweet explosion of profound and death-defying faith that obliterates our fears of losing what little self we still cling to.
Its kind of passionate, yes? I wonder how long Ive held down such thoughts, deep in a dark cellar. How long have I been well behaved instead of allowing the glorious burst of color that is my true foliage to have its way? What has been more important? I know. The acceptance of other, but other lives only within my own mind, a phantom, an ephemeral veiled wraith of judgment with no face, no identity. Ill no longer be haunted by allowing fear to mask what I need to say, especially to myself.
If I am experiencing this level of healthy fed-upness, someone else must be too. Ive long since given up the illusion of being terminally unique in matters of importance, and what is more important than the absolute freedom to be totally authentic? Whats more precious to you than your wild nature? Whats more exciting than living your life as a full-spectrum canvas fully aglow with an individual beauty that only you can bring to the world?
The man Im dating hates makeup. He jokingly says Im not allowed to wear it. Easy for him to say with his Mediterranean skin, but I humor him and then wait for him to get scared and run. He doesnt run. Perhaps my real facewith all its vulnerability, flaws, and emotionsis acceptable. Perhaps thats what were all here for, to be mirrors of acceptance for each other, safe places to unmask and discover that we are all truly made from the same blood and bones.
This month, I invite you to drop a mask. Perhaps with one person or in one new way. Beware: you may find your real self is more beautiful than you ever imagined. You may even choose to dance your life naked, in a full display of self-love and joy. Let me know.
Sage Knight is a local author, writing coach, and mother of two. Please visit her at www.SageKnightWrites.com.