Friday, 5 November 2010Don't be fooled by me.
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
and none of them are me.
Pretending is an art that's second nature with me
But don't be fooled, for God'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 out
that confidence is my name
and coolness is 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
from the barriers that I so painstakingly erect.
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 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 carefuly and try to hear
what I'm not saying.
Hear what I'd like to say
but what I can not say.
I dislike hiding.
I dislike the supificial game I'm playing,
the superficial phony game.
I'd really like to be genuine
But I need your help, your hand to hold
Even though my masks would tell you otherwise.
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 the books say of men, I am irrational;
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
You wonder who I am?
for I am everyman
who wears a mask.
Don't be fooled by me.
At least not by the face I wear.
~Charles C. Finn (1966)
(Found this looking for something else on my old blog. It was more true then than it is now... but it still resonates.)