The mask

People watching is my thing. Many notice how absorbed I can be when out in public. They comment that I’m not paying attention to them, that I’m distracted. Rude even. I’m not really, I’m just studying the people around me. They often wonder what I’m looking at and I know they would be surprised if I told them. If they think it’s all female and I’m studying only the things desired by the typical superficial male, then they’d be wrong. Sure, I like a nice ass as much as the next person but that’s not what I look at. I look at the face.

The human condition cannot be studied only below the neck. With the exception of body language, which is very telling, the face is the great indicator of behavior and the eyes in particular are extraordinarily telling. I’ve always been one to look them in the eye.

It is said that everyone wears a mask of sorts. The face that we put on in any given circumstance is a guise, a facade. It is the embodiment of what we want to tell the world about us on that particular day. Few people in my opinion are comfortable in their own skin enough to wear the same mask each day.

Americans in particular like to pretend. I believe it matters less to some to be happy or successful if they can at least create the illusion that they are. Clothes tell some of the story, the rest is in the eyes and I can tell volumes from them. Consequently, the use of masks everywhere and all the time hasn’t phased me much in the people-watching department. Now that the eyes are all that we see, I’m in my element.

Have you seen someone run into someone and not recognize them because they are wearing a mask? I sure have. I’ve watched people, well-known acquaintances even, not recognize each other when wearing one. It’s never happened to me. I always look people in the eyes so it’s been easy for me.

Now, the eyes are all we have. While it has been one element in making communication harder these days it has created opportunities for the People-watchers among us. Studying the eyes is more than a way of recognizing someone, it is a way of reading their emotions in the absence of other facial tells. In ones eyes we can gauge annoyance, friendliness, irritability, anxiety, fear and even flirtation. Through a mask you can genuinely tell what a person’s reaction to your presence is. It’s all in the eyes, regardless of the mask you choose to wear.

As life continues to get more difficult and society grapples with all of the ways in which to protect ourselves, masks are part of our future. Communication presents more challenges each day. Do yourself a favor while you can.

Learn to see through the mask. It’s all in the eyes.

11 thoughts on “The mask”

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