Free to be…

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”
― Jim Morrison

I remember forty years ago when Marlo Thomas and friends released a record–and then a book–titled Free to Be…You and Me.” I was an adult by then and didn’t have children of an age to listen, but the title resonated with me then. It still does today.

I wonder how many of us feel like we are free to be…. Or have we done what Jim Morrison talks about? trading in reality for a role…giving up our ability to feel what we truly feel and putting on the mask that we think we have to wear to be acceptable.

I think almost all of us wear masks–most of the time if not always. We’re afraid.

Afraid of what others might think of us.

Afraid of not being what we think we should be.

Afraid of discovering who we really are.

But when we live in that kind of fear–when we continually wear masks–we end up losing ourselves.

Sometimes we’re lucky. It doesn’t always feel lucky, but sometimes something happens that forces the masks off. We may do it ourselves, or it may happen because someone else pulls it off. If we’re really lucky, we don’t face too much trauma getting through the process of finding out who/what’s behind the mask.

But it doesn’t happen that way too often. And I think that’s why we cling to the masks.

If we’re going to truly be “free to be…”, though, we have to go through the trauma. We have to let go of the things we hide behind…the expectations we (and others) put on us. We can’t be real while we’re wearing masks.

In so many ways, we’re like the velveteen rabbit (from the children’s book of the same name). We desperately long to “become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him.” It would be nice if we could just wave a wand and have it happen. That’s not how it works, though.

Real isn’t how you are made. It’s a thing that happens to you. Sometimes it hurts, but when you are Real you don’t mind being hurt. It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. Once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. Once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.

The One who made us wants us to be real. We were originally made that way–but we became afraid and so put the masks on that hid our Real-ness. It doesn’t have to stay that way. We become Real when we are loved–and there is always One who loves us.

When we get desperate enough…or maybe when we decide to trust enough..to remove our masks, to become Real to each other, amazing things will happen! We become free to be what and who we were created to be. And once we are Real…it lasts for always.

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