Who are you …?

The maskIn our culture that is driven by material ownership, oftentimes we associate the things we possess, and sometimes even people we choose to surround ourselves, as the sole determinant of who we are.  In discussions, lacking anything of substance to say about ourselves, we cite the accomplishments of our friends, the things we own — cars, jewelry, clothing, home, our latest electronic purchase(s) –, the attractiveness of our spouses, intelligence of our children, and just about everything.  Everything else that is except ourselves.

I have often wondered, strip everything away from people, what and/or who will they be?  Sometimes we cling too hard onto things (or others) that we lose our sense of self.  And, when things fall apart, as in the case of divorce, we are left naked… vulnerable.

I have come to find that everything is an illusion — the spouse, the children, the cars, house, and everything in this world.  The only thing real is our sense of being.  When everything is taken away, will you still know who you are?  In that case, can you tell me, friend… who are you?

We Wear the Mask
Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

WE wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

Franco E. Santos, MA

Franco E. Santos is an adjunct professor of psychology and undergraduate advisor at Mount Saint Mary’s University in West Los Angeles.

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