And other feels…
I invite you to sit and feel for a moment.
Imagine you are wearing a face mask. And then imagine that every single person around you is also wearing a mask. No-one is free of the face cloth; no one is uncovered. No man or woman, no child, no infant. Not your lover nor your sibling, not your parents nor your friends.
I invite for you to sit and feel for a moment – really feel. Let go of any beliefs as far as protection, let go of any expert advice you have heard and allow yourself to tap into the emotion that is evoked from not only wearing a mask but from being surrounded by an entire civilisation who is also covered so that you can not see half their face.
No matter where you go – the supermarket, the mall, your child’s school, the library, a cafe, to the park or to the beach. On your bike, at the movie theatre, washing your car, consoling a crying child, celebrating at a wedding, attending a funeral – every where you turn are expressionless faces for you can not see if the person in front of you is smiling or crying or suffocating.
Imagine never being able to experience the joy of watching a child laugh, never seeing the smile on your co-workers face when they receive praise, never witnessing your friends lips trembling just before they break down and cry and missing the opportunity to catch your mother before she falls because you didn’t see the surprise on her face as she tripped over.
Like many animals, and maybe even more than some, human beings communicate through facial expressions and this way of communicating can often give a person insight, forewarning or the ability to understand each other without words.
Imagine if human beings existed without mouths or noses, devoid of expression, half their face wiped out. Imagine that because that is what a World with masks would be.
What would happen to the psyche of the child who grows up surrounded by masked people? How would they learn to read faces? How would they learn to communicate through facial expression? How would they know the difference between joy and anger if they didn’t learn through experiencing the difference in the safety of their own environment? Would a smile only be enjoyed when it is entertained with laughter? Would a scowl only be experienced with screams or shouts?
Who in their logical mind would want to erase the part of our face that connects us with one another?
As a Pilates professional I spend half my day reading peoples facial expressions. Often their mouth tells me what they struggle to express in words. I can tell if someone is uncomfortable, in pain, relaxed or enjoying themselves. I know whether I need to pull back, lessen the spring setting, push them harder or send encouragement their way. Facial expressions allow me to work intuitively, quietly acknowledging my students experience and allowing them to trust in the process and share secrets that are sometimes too difficult to reveal through spoken word.
I can send a smile across the room without shouting, purse my lips at a staff member if they are disruptive, laugh silently but heartily when a client puffs their way through the 100 and send all manner of wordless cues to an entire room as I wait for their full attention.
Many of my clients come to me for anxiety, depression, PTSD and psychologically debilitating injuries. Some come for company, to ease loneliness; others come because they enjoy the community – imagine the emotional toll that a mask might have on these people, if our entire relationship was faceless.
Put your hand over your mouth and imagine that for a moment.
A room of faceless people is like Pilates without movement. Imagine breathing with no air, a lover with no heart, a life without meaning.
I invite you to sit for a moment and feel, to really feel what life would be like if every single person you ever saw was wearing a mask.
If wearing a facemask gives rise to images of slavery, submission and forced compliance you are not alone. If wearing a face mask makes you feel dehumanised, denied and silenced you are not alone. If wearing a face mask feels instinctively wrong and has you deeply troubled you are not alone.
Now is not a time for submission, for standing down, for waiting. The pause is over. Now is a time for speaking up, for standing up and for listening to your true self.
Now is the time to reclaim what you already know.
Now is the time for change.