I thought back to my days of teaching Math and recalled that my most popular costume was my calculator outfit. The kids loved that I was such a nerd. And then, as it is often inclined to do, my math nerd surfaced. I thought, “If this is the only day of the year that we can be exactly who we want to be, then who are we being the other 364 days?”
And of course the truth is that so often we not only wear a mask on Halloween, but we also wear a pretty convincing mask many other days too. The difference is that on Halloween, people we meet realize that we are pretending. They know that if they look behind the mask they will get exactly what they are expecting, and so they are not really afraid to look. They know that the real person behind the mask is ok. On the other days it isn’t so simple.
Sometimes people in our lives don’t even realize that we have donned a mask. Sometimes they do realize it but don’t want to peak behind it, for fear of what they will see. And sometimes we have been wearing our masks for so long that even we begin to feel normal with it on. As James Bond said in a trailer for his new movie, “You came across me so many times and yet you never saw me”. What a powerful line. I’m not sure what the context of this is in the movie but I do know in life that I have come across people whom I do not really see. I also have experienced people talking to me and I sense that they have not been really seeing me either. I have learned to try to make a practice of being good at seeing people. There is no nicer feeling than to be really seen by a friend; to have someone in our life who knows who we are underneath our carefully crafted exterior, and who is ok with that person.
Once the trick or treaters have gone home this weekend, may you be brave enough to become exactly who you want to be. May you take off your own mask to let others see you. May you also be brave enough to take a look beneath the mask worn by others. There is likely a wonderful story awaiting your discovery.
May we not be known as people who “come across others and yet never really see them”.