Saturday, November 10, 2012


More formally known as facades.

Or is it - façades?

I think what really inspired this series of thoughts was a “one-night-Billy-Joel-binge”.  There is one song of his that I’m particularly attached to entitled “Stranger”.  I’m attached for a few reasons:

1)   There is whistling involved, and anyone that has lived with me even briefly knows how much I love to whistle
      2)    I associate Billy Joel very closely with my Dad, and I’m quite fond of my father
      3) The song has a solid beat supported by well thought-out lyrics, something I find lacking in a lot (though, certainly, not all) of today’s music

That being said, the opening line in this song is

“well we all have a face that we hide away forever, and we take them out and show ourselves when everyone is gone”.
(click here for a video of a live performance)

And, whenever I hear it, I think “HOW TRUE”

Think about this, do you act the same way around your co-workers that you would your grandparents?  What about the way you act around your friends compared to your teachers?

If they’re the same, then I congratulate you on either being a truly genuine or a truly foolish person.  You see, I think these faces serve a genuine purpose, otherwise we wouldn’t have developed them long ago.  I think they’re a protective and progressive maneuver. 

Let's throw ourselves into a hypothetical story.  Hypothetically, back in caveman days, a man was interested in a woman – so he acted like tough stuff.  He puffed out his chest, opened his mighty yawp and roared.  However, when the head of the clan walked by, the chest deflated and the submissive personality came out.  If the man had continued to act like “da bomb” in front of his superior, the superior would have felt challenged and would have thus initiated a fight between the two men.

The face of the tough guy got him the lady of his dreams and the submissive face kept him from getting his bum handed to him.  

In these instances, the facade is an alright thing.

But, I believe quite strongly that the various masks aren't always good.  Anytime that those faces cause you to wonder who are you, who you could be, and if you're being honest with yourself - the reality of those faces should come in to question.  When, at the end of the day, you're getting ready for bed, looking into the mirror as you brush your teeth, and ask yourself "Am I really okay with what's happening in my life?" - the question should give cause for a serious pause.

Because some masks are harder to take off than others, and the longer you leave them on, the harder they continue to be to take off.

Similarly, if these masks cause pain to another being, then they should be questioned.  If the reality of your in-genuine smile and interest in a person causes that person heartache, then your mask of a "kind hearted soul" isn't so kind hearted.  I saw this a lot (and, to be honest, acted this way) when I worked at The Coffee Shop.  At the end of the day, most of us were more interested in getting a tip from the customer than finding out how they actually were.  And, hey, if the customer didn't know that we didn't really care and weren't really listening, then what did it matter?

Bad, bad, bad.

And, to what should we blame feeling like it was necessary to act this way?  Contemporary expectations of how the service industry should act?  I'm realizing, more and more, that I would rather have a waiter/ess that is genuinely like "Man, today has been nuts, and I'm super tired, so please excuse me if I'm short with you" than "HEYYYYYYYYYYYYY! How're you?! OMG I'M SO GLAD TO SEE YOU."

To, again, quote "The Stranger":

 "it was then I felt the stranger kick me right between the eyes"

So what do we do?

I think there are a few things that can help us realize when we need to remove the mask:
1) Constant contemplation on how we feel our days and our lives are going.  If we're please with the way we feel life to be heading, then it's okay.  If we're a little upset with day to day life and the possibility of a future, then perhaps a new course of action should be taken

2) Constant contemplation of the sorts of masks we have. 
My most easily recognizable masks are:
teacher, girlfriend, daughter, sister, granddaughter, friend, co-worker, student (of life, at this point), musician, writer, reader, critic, dog-owner
but there are finer ones that it took some contemplation to come up with:
music teacher (I'm realizing, very different from classroom teacher sometimes), coffee shop loiterer,  role model, social critic (this is a bad one some days, a good one others), dog owner, small female, individual with high standards for not only myself, but others (which leads into expectations, which can often lead into unnecessary disappointment)
To name a few....
3) Realization of our relationships and how they affect the way we act.  Are they causing us to form facades that are unhealthy?  Are they helping us remove facades?

So, when I have to be a friend, co-worker, and critique at the same time...sometimes there is tension.

I challenge you to make a list of your masks and then take note of the ones that can cause tension. Then take note of the ones that cause angst daily.....assess those.

I'll leave you with my favorite part of the lyrics to "The Stranger":

"Don't be afraid to try again, everyone goes south, every now and then.  You've done it, why can't someone else? You should know by now, you've been there yourself."

Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts and thanks for reading.


PS:  Does anyone else find it ironic/hilarious that the word facades itself has two spellings: facade and façades?

PSS: Check out my other blog, Hike the Crown, to read about one of my other masks: A girl attempting to Triple Crown in USA hiking!

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