JANUARY 07, 2019 by Stephen McLaren
Reflections 5

 ‘So many different lengths of time . .

 How long does a wo(man) live finally ?  Is it a thousand days or only one ? Is it a week or a few centuries ? How long does a wo(man) spend living or dying  and what do we mean when we say gone forever ? Lost in such preoccupations, we seek clarification. We can go to the philosophers but they will weary of our questions. We can go to the priests and rabbis, too busy with ministrations. So, how long does a wo(man) live after all ?  And how much does s/he live while s/he lives ?   We fret and ask so many questions - then when it comes to us, the answer is so simple after all. A wo(man) lives for as long as we carry her/him inside us, for as long as we carry the harvest of her/his dreams, for as long as we ourselves live, holding memories. Her/his lover will carry her /his scent, their touch:  children will carry the weight of her/his love.  One friend will carry her/his arguments; another will hum her/his favourite tunes; another will share her/his terrors and fears.And the days will pass with baffled faces, then the weeks, then the months, then there will be a day when no question is asked and knots of grief will loosen in the stomach and tear swollen faces will calm. And on that day, name will not have ceased;  s/he will simply cease to be separated from us by death. So how long does a wo(man) live finally ?  A wo(man) lives so many different lengths of time.

Brian Patten


‘Don’t be fooled . . .


Don't be fooled by the face I wear for I wear a mask.  I wear a thousand masks - masks that I'm afraid to take off for none of them are me. Pretending is an art that's second nature with me but don't be fooled, for pity's sake, don't be  fooled. I give you the impression that I'm secure, that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well as without, that confidence is my name and coolness my game, that the water's calm and I'm in command, and that I need no one.  But don't believe me. Please! My surface may be smooth but my surface is my mask, my ever-varying and ever-concealing mask.  Beneath lies no smugness, no complacence. Beneath dwells the real me in confusion, in fear, in aloneness. But I hide this.  I don't want anybody to know it.  I panic at the thought of my weaknesses and fear exposing them.  That's why I frantically create my masks to hide behind.  They're nonchalant, sophisticated facades to help me pretend, to shield me from the glance that knows.  But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only salvation, and I know it. That is, if it's followed by acceptance and if it's followed by love, it's the only thing that can liberate me from myself, from my own self-built prison walls. I dislike hiding, honestly.  I dislike the superficial game I'm playing, the superficial phony game.  I'd really like to be genuine and me.  But I need your help, your hand to hold even though my masks would tell you otherwise. That glance from you is the only thing that assures me of what I can't assure myself, that I'm really worth something. But I don't tell you this.  I don't dare.  I'm afraid to.  I'm afraid you'll think less of me, that you'll laugh and your laugh would kill me.  I'm afraid that deep-down I'm nothing, that I'm just no good and that you will see this and reject me.  So I play my game, my desperate, pretending game with a facade of assurance without and a trembling child within.  So begins the parade of masks, the glittering but empty parade of masks, and my life becomes a front.  I idly chatter to you in suave tones of surface talk.  I tell you everything that's nothing and nothing of what's everything, of what's crying within me.  So when I'm going through my routine, do not be fooled by what I'm saying.  Please listen carefully and try to hear what I'm not saying.  Hear what I'd like to say but what I cannot say.  It will not be easy for you, long felt inadequacies make my defences strong.  The nearer you approach me the blinder I may strike back.  Despite what books say of men, I am irrational;  I fight against the very thing that I cry out for.  You wonder who I am, but you shouldn't for I am everyman and everywoman who wears a mask.  Don't be fooled by me.  At least not by the face I wear

Leave a comment
To comply with data protection regulations (2018), we are unable to store and use your information unless you give us your permission. Please select Yes to allow this. View our Privacy and Data Policy for full details.*
Security Code
Enter the Code