Hey Good Looking

Yes, I’m talking to you --the you who tries so hard to look so good all the time. Ok, so maybe you’re trying to inspire the next cover of Vogue, but what about your social appearance? How much time and energy are you spending on that reflection?

My guess is, a good number of us expend too much effort worried and concerned about what other people might think or, perish the thought, what they might say.

Beyond the worry and concern is an unquenchable thirst for acceptance and approval, one we’re just not sure we’ll satisfy if we let it all hang out. And so our “social makeup” gives us the powder and concealer we need to hide ourselves from the world and to prevent people from discovering who we really are (as if that’s a bad thing).

As our makeup gets thicker and thicker, our distance from people grows greater and greater. It might not appear that way on the surface, but there’s a palpable distance and it’s clearly unmistakable (deep down) inside.

It’s exactly why the idea of being one’s authentic self has gotten so much attention lately. Bring the real you out into the world -- that same you who, as a child, didn’t have a clue what it meant to remain hidden as you were running around, laughing and screaming on the playground (unless, of course, you were playing hide-and-seek).

It was effortless, wasn’t it?

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) reflects insightfully on the subject of our hidden selves in his poem, “We Wear the Mask:”

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes.
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

“Torn and bleeding hearts” and “tortured souls.” That’s the high price we're paying for the perfumed and disguised version of ourselves that we present to the world. Is it really worth it?

Think of how much we could save if we returned to the playground, that proverbial place that reminds us it's okay to let go and have fun, to swing on a swing, and to take a spin on the merry-go-round.

Skinned knees, dirty hands, and grass-stained clothing from the fun of it all. Now that's  what I call looking good! (Wanna come out and play?)