Safe Places

“A Man is least himself when he talks in his own person, give him a mask and he will tell you the truth.”

growing up Oscar Wilde was an enigma for me because even though I loved his style and words, it was like listening to a song in an unknown language. You feel the beauty of the music and you listen to the melody but you can’t ever fully appreciate the true beauty of the song because the words of it don’t make sense to you.

Though I am older now I still can’t claim to understand all his works, I can appreciate him a lot more than my younger self. His quote about masks being my favorite.

As we grow older and the romantic idealism fades, we begin to realize the world is not black and white, there are far too many shades of gray (way more than just fifty) so in order to protect ourselves and the people around us we pick these masks and cover our true faces with them.

These masks are shades of what we really are, their sole function to let us walk in the world outside full of ideas and/or people our real selves can’t possibly get along with.

These masks help us accept things we would never otherwise.

These masks are a token admittance of our defeated attempts for individuality, for originality.

These masks allow us to be accepted by a world that won’t accept our true selves.

These masks are sometimes results of bitter experiences, the times we did try, to be honest with ourselves and the world; other times they are proofs of our cowardice, the times we were too scared and chose to take the easy way out.

Masks are really important for survival in everyday life, to go through the monotony without losing our sanity. Sometimes people suck at keeping appearances and they spend their lives resigned to be outcasts… sometimes bitter, other times sad about their peers. Other times there are people who get so good at wearing masks that they could be completely different person depending on their company.

row-of-white-masks

Most people, however, are mediocre and spend their lives shuffling between a handful of masks and fistful of roles until the curtain falls and the people they left behind are doomed to wonder which was the real person and which were the masks?

Here’s the deal with masks, though, wear them long enough and you forget where the appearances end and the real you begins.My masks were pretty simple,

a) the polite guy-next-door

b) the gentleman who tried to keep everyone happy even if it ended up biting him later.

And so would the masks have stayed if I hadn’t gotten out. My trip to mountains happened three years ago around the last full moon of autumn. A couple of my friends, a couple of friends I thought I was friends with and a couple of people I didn’t know I’d end up being friends with, asked me if I’d like to go out. we took the night bus from the city to Rishikesh, this small beautiful place nestled in the foothills of Himalayas besides the Ganges. The late night bus we took was supposed to get us there at six a.m. You can understand thus the kind of driver we had when I tell you we got there at two a.m.
The following morning I woke up to the most beautiful scene I’ve ever seen in my life (yet!) it was at that moment that I knew I was in love with the mountains. At 6:12 on a chilly October morning of 2014.IMG_20141007_061214

I spent three days there… they’ve all merged into one long memory of one thing after another and I can’t separate the days for the life of me, what I do remember is the fact that I slept for 10 hours in those three days. Never tired and hardly ever exhausted.

One of those memories was when a friend of mine drove us up the mountain road at 3 in the morning in the pitch black darkness to what must have been five or six kilometers from the city to this small secluded place, too small to be called a “beach”. Lying down there though you could see the sky.

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Faintest trace of milky way flowing across the sky… the bright gold full moon settling down for the night, in the wispy dress made of mountains’ mist. The pitch black night across the river grew lighter as it moved upwards and ended in the crown of conifers blue-green in the dazzling moonlight. The only sound (other than our voices) being the soft gurgle of Ganges already massive and deep. I can say for sure that it was that night I finally let go of my masks. The person I am underneath must’ve not been that likable after all because ever since I’ve lost more people than I’ve found but whatever few I did keep can see through my pretense for who I am.

The point of this rant is… to separate yourself from your masks you need safe places. These safe places can be people, the ones you can be brutally honest and utterly yourself with, safe places can also be literal places, places where you no longer felt the need of wearing masks. In order to do that however, you must take risks…

let people in, let yourself go out. Explore your surroundings, your neighborhood, your city. You don’t always have to leave everything behind if you are to find something new (because what’s the point of rediscovering yourself if not be a better person than before?) Take chances with people, more often than not they’ll disappoint you, more often than not you’ll end up picking the pieces of your broken heart but isn’t that the point? To find a person who’ll help you put the pieces back together. Drop your masks in front of those you love, those you trust. If they really love you back, they’d stay no matter how ugly the face underneath happens to be.

At the end of my trip to Rishikesh I ended up finding both sorts of safe places for myself. Even now, when things get too much and people begin to fray my nerves I go back to that chilly night in the mountains, where moon still waits and mother Ganges sings me a lullaby.

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(picture credits. The kabuki masks are borrowed from, http://blog.mcbridemagic.com/reinventing-yourself/. The second photo was captured by yours truly.Third and fourth photos were clicked by Rohit, a budding photographer and currently working on Wildlife in foothills of Himalayas. An easy to get along person and one of my safe places)

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