Thursday, October 2, 2014

Masking and Unmasking

Costumes at Halloween are always intriguing. Of course, people have costume parties throughout the year, but Halloween is probably the biggest holiday across the board for people to host or participate in costume parties.
Masks and costumes can reveal part of a person's personality and secrets that usually stay hidden. A costume bestows an opportunity to live out a fantasy, even if only for a little while one evening. For that brief event, a person can be someone they have always wanted to be, and that can be an exciting experience.
Wearing a costume or a mask can encourage a person to expand their ambitions in life to become more of who they want to be.
Of course, masks and costumes will not affect everyone that way. Some will simply put it away in a closet and regard it as a silly little dress up event they did at a party for fun.

Notice how at a party where people are wearing masks, and we are not certain who is behind those masks, we find ourselves guessing and then when we find out who it is we may feel totally surprised.

The whole process is rather illuminating if we think about it. For example, a person whose life appears to be very predictable and routine suddenly appears at a party in an adventurous, erotic or outlandish costume that would appear to be the opposite of the personality they normally present to the world. Does that radical departure signal a secret desire to really have a life different than the one they have, or is this simply an elaborate way to have fun pulling everyone's leg this evening? You see, even at this milder level of interpretation, there is a loosening up when a person who normally expresses themselves in a very dry or subdued manner suddenly displays a whip snapping wit. Perhaps what is revealed is that this person really does have a great sense of humor and a larger view of the world,  but we never usually experience it because our usual interactions with them make them appear to be a very narrowly focused person.

There is another aspect to masking and costumes that goes way back to the ancient Roman holidays when the costumes might indicate a role reversal for the holiday. Although there is an obvious appeal to humor in such arrangements, costumes could also reveal a person's real desire to have a different life and be a different person. The question we pose to ourselves even in this limited situation, is if we could make important life choices over again, how would we choose differently? Or would we?
How does the process of selecting a costume start? By entertaining ideas of what you would like to be? Interesting, isn't it?
What might that suggest about future directions for you? Or, for that matter, about our present state of mind?

Masks and costumes provide a kind of freedom while we are in them, to experience life from a different perspective, and many find this to be very exciting. That is one of the reasons for the immense popularity of role playing games among a variety of people.

In tribal traditions, masks were often intended to portray a spirit entity in rituals, and they were also used to convey messages by virtue of the animal or bird they represented. Indeed, some of our costume inspirations may come from the same sources. It may all depend on the theme of the party if the host or hostess has announced one.

Consider how surprised some of us are when a dance partner at a costume ball is revealed to be someone who we didn't even know could dance, and they turn out to be a splendid dancer. It reveals another whole previously unknown aspect of that person.

Masks offer us an experience of what it means to us to be human as we engage in the imaginative experience of being transformed into someone else during the time we are wearing the masks and costumes. We then have the opportunity to get a fresh perspective on our life when we return to our existence without a mask.

People may see us differently at different times in our lives. We have all had that experience of being caught off guard at times when we fail to recognize someone when they are "out of context." In other words, when we are seeing someone in a way we do not usually see them or a place we do not usually see them, we relate to them differently. This same thing happens on a larger scale when we change careers or relationships or change our look with a different hair style, facial hair or style of clothing. These things cause us to see a person differently and it changes our experience of them.

For some people this is all just a temporary, entertaining experience, while for others, it can be a life changing experience. How will it be for you?


Jane said...

It's so interesting to watch how the US celebrate Halloween. In the UK it's only really taken off as a big thing to celebrate within the last 6 years? or so.
As a child it was never 'celebrated' not as you'd describe it here anyway. But we were aware of it on another level, especially if you lived in the country, in the villages. there were always stories and local myths and traditional things people did connected with it. So it's with some disappointment for me to see kids today in the UK celebrating in this commercial way, but I guess that's the way of the world.:)

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