The Great Unmasking
Masks can mean so many different things. Criminals wear masks to hide their identities, the masks of comedy and tragedy represent the theater, the hijab in Islam masks women with modesty. Our recent masking has been seen as protection, a political statement as well as an expression of fashion sense.
I’m confused. I had covid and received my J & J vaccine. Am I supposed to wear a mask to protect others? If I don’t wear a mask, am I making a political statement? Can I trust people who are maskless as having gotten their vaccines? Does any of it matter given the variants that are now appearing? These times are dizzying.
The lower part of the human face has musculature that is design to express emotion. During the high masking period, I discovered that the eyes try to do their best, crinkling when we smile, but it isn’t like a full, open smile. I’ve missed that.
Combine the masked smile (that eventually may have given up) with lack of human interaction and virtual, cloistered existence, the Great Unmasking constitutes more that simply removing a mask. It is actually a return to our humanity, our interactive space, and our need to express our inner world through the full face.
This isn’t so easy and may cause some folks to feel exposed and anxious. The organic space is spontaneous and multi-dimensional. It isn’t a waist-up, two-dimensional world after all!
If you find yourself a bit facially avoidant of others, or grabbing for a mask you no longer have on, take it slow and easy. Let yourself ease in and allow interpersonal energy to fill you up.
Welcome back spontaneous smiles, friendly strangers and all of humanity. I’ll never take you for granted again.