MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “masks”

Masked control

She sneezed and suddenly the entire bus felt tense. It was as if everyone was holding their breath and counting the seconds until the next stop so most could get off. The pandemic has made us too touchy, always on edge, afraid of almost everything. We fear intimacy because we’ve been deprived of it for so long.

Mask constantly on, she got off at the next stop – that was the plan anyway.

She was observing people as she walked by. Their eyes had become their most descriptive characteristic at the moment; when you conceal everything else, what remains becomes more noticeable and gains greater power. You could sense their exasperation with the current situation: some had already given up wearing masks altogether, others were wearing two; most were slumping as if literally bearing their troubles on their back; and more often than not, they were all irritated by something.

So that’s where we’re at: being constantly agitated and not being able to explain why. We’re tired in all ways it is possible and we lack the motivation to do the basics, let alone go the extra mile. We’re carrying all this stress that is often inexplicable and unjustifiable and we seem unable to shake it off.

It’s easier to complain than to react. Perhaps that’s what we’ve forgotten. And we’ve allowed ourselves to tolerate it all passively for so long that we’re now dwelling in the comfort of inaction, seeing no reason to change anything.

No one will push you forward or get you going unless you do. You are your own motivation, alarm clock, red alert etc. If you don’t find a reason to move, no one else will inspire you too either.

We’ve become so reliant on others, on having things ready, at our feet – perhaps this is the downside of so much automation and technology in our lives. The fact that we tend to disregard that we are in fact in control.  So much, that we can even regulate the volume of our own sneeze.

People-watching

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It’s called “people watching”. When you sit for hours at a café on a sidewalk, gazing at people passing by, at the world unfolding, as you passively enjoy a cup of coffee.

It’s seemingly doing nothing. But more often than not, it’s actually very interesting to observe people as they go on their way unknowing that someone is watching them.

It’s not really gossiping or weirdness, it’s curiosity about our social behaviour.

People tend to act differently when they think no one is looking at them. We tend to be lighter – in our walk, our posture, our attitude in general. Because we’re not compelled by some unwritten code of conduct or some social norms we must adhere to. We even talk to ourselves, or adjust the rhythm of our steps to the music we’re listening to, or simply let our minds wander as we allow ourselves to automatically go on our daily routines.

Watching people is enlightening. Because every person has a character of their own. Sometimes even more than one. Because it’s that side you don’t usually see that really tells a lot about a person.

It’s that third face you show to no-one that is your truest form.

We are a strange people

There are three types of people in this world: Those who when told to do something by experts or authorities choose to follow the rules; those who only follow some of them in a customized way that suits them best; and those who obstinately refuse to do so.

We are a strange people.

We have demonstrated that worse than a virus that is plaguing humanity is stupidity that, unfortunately, cannot be remedied with a vaccine.

We have heard and seen so much in the past couple of months since the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, that we begin to wonder how mankind has actually survived 2020 years amidst this astoundingly low IQ that is on display everywhere lately. Perhaps it is simply a matter that we now have the means (social media) to make our stupidity more evident and apparent and for all to see. What is even more tragic is that the dumber you seem, the more proud of it you seem to appear.

From the most obvious things that belong in the realm of common sense – from washing your hands, maintaining basic hygiene, and not cramming everywhere – to simple instructions, such as how to (properly) wear a face mask to cover nose and mouth, people are reacting everywhere as if they have been told to become victims of the most horrible and unending punishment.

It is ridiculous how much time and energy we waste in rebelling against something that is supposed to protect us from each other and us collectively from something that is evidently (despite the abundant conspiracies) affecting us in a very negative way, both in health and in economy.

We have proven that we need legislation to regulate even the most common sense issues. But we stubbornly refuse to abide to the laws, because we simply have to object to something, to show that we do not yield to a system that is trying to violate our rights and freedoms, and because we simply do not want to.

Yet, we are aware of every provision of the law and are willing to exercise our legal rights when our neighbour’s dog wakes us up from our afternoon nap, or for any other pedantic reason we find to draw money from the state, or waste time and energy to prove that we are superior to those we ourselves elected to manage a democracy.

We rebel against technocrats and scientists, arguing that they bought their way into their positions. But not everyone is like that. Corruption and nepotism is definitely widespread. But there are people who have worked hard and made sacrifices to be where they are. And they are trying to help.

It is easier to criticise everything and everyone when you are sitting on your couch and have not spent years or grey matter studying. And it is much easier to feel contempt that others justifiably have more knowledge than you and can recommend what to do to keep you safe. It is easier to scorn than to admire. And consequently it is this competitive nature that makes us fight against the tide rather than go along with it.

We believe we are more clever, cunning and astute than the next person. We have ideas – an abundance of innovative trends – that we do not use for something good or useful, but for the most ludicrous reasons, and for our own benefit and interests alone.

We are a strange people.

And the more we try to change others, the more we realise that it is those who couldn’t care less about the world that will end up surviving the longest.

We all become what we pretend to be

©Dale Rogerson

As a child, she loved pretending and wearing costumes. Her favourite drama teacher warned that “no one can wear a mask for very long”. She needed to learn to distinguish when she was playing a role, and when she was being herself.

It was a dangerous thing to wear a mask and a costume; “we all become what we pretend to be”.

They strange thing she realised while acting was that a single person can wear many masks. And with each, they’ll tell another truth.

Yet, she loved to act; simply by changing looks and attitude, she could be anyone.

A man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth” – Oscar Wilde

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

The three faces

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“There is a Japanese saying that every person has three faces. The first face is the one you show to the world. The one you pretend to be, you sometimes even force yourself to present to others. The second face is the one you show to your close friends and family. It’s that side of your personality you only allow those near and dear to you to see. The third face is the one you never show to anyone. It’s the secret thoughts and fears you only keep to yourself. But this is the truest reflection of who you are”.

Uncle Kim had spent many years in Japan. He had a completely different mentality and world outlook to everyone else.

He understood when his nephew was disappointed or tired or sad and knew how to distinguish between the times he needed support or simply to be left alone for a while.

People strive to show others they are OK, they are fighting through anything that is bothering them. We more often than not put on a show to deceive ourselves more than everyone else. We want to appear as perfect as we idealise everyone to be. Or as near to that as possible. Then we chose a circle of our closest people and let them in a little closer to our heart and mind. We share with them some of our own thoughts, dreams and anguishes. But there is always one part we only keep to ourselves. Those things we never tell because often we don’t want to hear them out loud. We don’t want to admit to thinking them.

The truest form of who we are is the only face we see. But isn’t that a shame that we constantly live with masks on? So no one really ever knows one another.

Contractual Obligations

http://worldartsme.com/images/people-signing-papers-clipart-1.jpgWhen the first beam of morning light hit his face, Oliver sprung out of bed. He was excited. Today was his interview. He had been searching for a job for months now and could not even remember how many CVs he had sent out, let alone to whom. Just a few days ago, he had finally received a positive response after so many courteously phrased rejections.

So, he put on his smart-yet-not-too-casual clothes and set off for what he believed was a great opportunity. If he landed this job, it would be a stepping stone to advance into something greater. At least that is how he perceived it in his mind, given all he had read about the said company. Even if it did not work out, however, he still thought it would be a good chance to learn from it and become better, even if it was just at the interview part.

But Oliver could never have imagined what followed.

The minute he walked into the office, the secretary did not even raise her eyes to meet his. She looked at him almost demeaningly and simply grunted when she was to accompany him in to the office of the company’s CEOs.

In turn, these two men stared at him, as if trying to sting his entire body with invisible beams of fire launched from their eyes. Oliver already felt the sweat beginning to form. He sat down timidly without saying a word.

Then the CEOs did something that seemed entirely out of their nature; it was too obvious to miss: they smiled.

It is easy to detect a fake smile, especially when it is so forced upon a person you can see them cringe.

Oliver kept a blank expression. He thought it would be best.

He was asked to briefly introduce himself, which he did. And then he had to listen for 40 minutes, while both CEOs outlined the contractual obligations he would be committed to once he entered the specific company.

Not once was he asked why he wanted to work there. He had prepared an answer for that, as it was a common interview question.

Nor was he ever told what the company could offer him.

Instead, he was bombarded with a list of obligations he would consent to, not least being punctual and succumbing to anything his superiors would ask him to do. Worst of all, he was to provide a monthly subscription to the company for the space he occupied there. In plain: he would pay them to work for them.

Asked if he was clear with the terms, Oliver nodded vacantly. He was then handed an 18-page contract, titled “agreement”, which he was to sign and return by the next morning.

What he did not comprehend, was that he was never expected to read it. Because that would be considered “paranoid”. That was what the CEOs described it as in the reply email they sent him when he kindly declined their offer. Because to them, the simple fact that he attended their meeting was a verbal commitment that he was on board with everything they threw his way.

Oliver knew differently, however. This is not what companies were expected to do. And contracts existed for a reason. To be read and understood before being signed.  If these people were so afraid of revealing the exact terms outlined in a so-called agreement, then something was wrong with it. And if they felt so insanely insecure about everything they said and did, that they desperately needed to conceal it all, then there was definitely something that was not right.

Oliver realized that in time to get away. And he was glad he did. Because sometimes, the greatest lessons you learn are from the places you least expect it. They are concealed behind facades that tempt you otherwise.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Conceal

Forced smiles, fake laughs

http://www.veneto-explorer.com/images/350xNxeyeswildresized.jpg.pagespeed.ic.KnvlBU8W0z.jpgDo you remember what the last thing you read today was? Or what you were most recently discussing? Do you even recall what the last song you were listening to was?

We are constantly bombarded with so much information, we don’t have time to process it all. We pass our days skimming through texts and articles and by the end, we’ve already forgotten what we were reading about.

The same goes for the discussions we have. We often nod, as if we are paying attention to what our interlocutor is going on about, or as if we even remember what we were even talking about to begin with. Our topics of conversation become superficial and insubstantial. They are interesting enough to keep our attention for a few seconds, and then that distraction kicks in again.

We lose interest too soon. Isn’t that a sign of a society in disintegration? Of a life that becomes so superfluous that it keeps requiring things to keep its adrenaline high?

Do you even remember the last time you really enjoyed something? The last time you literally laughed with your heart? When you got lost in the moment you were living, forgetting about everything else?

We live at a time when we are surrounded by forced smiles and fake laughs. We have become so accustomed of hitting the “like” button online, that this has become a measure of our popularity, as if this is the only thing that matters for our existence.

We live our lives behind a mask, or maybe behind an abundance of them. To the extent that we sometimes don’t remember what it was like to be without one. What it is like to be genuine, carefree, and real.

It’s easy to put on a mask. Taking it off is the hard part.

Tragic but no comedy

vin__s_glass_dagger_by_laurorag12-d4x074dJustin looked down at the body that lay lying between the rubbish dumpster and the ladder which would have served as his escape route. It was pitch black outside still and if it weren’t for the growling cats on heat, nothing would have been heard. Not even cars rushing by. It was a peculiar night. A full moon always pre-empts something strange. Justin believed his ancestors’ belief to be true. And tonight it had become a reality.

Two hours ago he was standing there in the living room of his fourth-floor apartment drinking an Irish beer with his friend. “Friend”. He had just met him a week ago. How well can you get to know someone in such a short time? Even if you did spend an unusually large proportion of your time each day in their company?

Why? Because what they shared went beyond the ‘normal’. And the ‘legal’.

No, they weren’t smuggling, selling or growing drugs.

No, they were not into human trafficking.

No, they were not into something disgusting or perverted.

They were running around town all day, trying to do a good deed to change someone’s life.

They smiled at everyone in the street, no matter if they got sworn at or nearly hit in return. They truly believed that one single smile, one good deed, no matter how small, may one day save a life.

It was good karma if nothing else. And it certainly made them feel their day was worthwhile.

Until that moonlit night.

Justin remembered that they had even joked about the only thing missing from that “twilight” sky was a howling wolf.

It was ironic that a cat howled like a wolf when the body fell four stories down and crashed onto its tail.

He didn’t mean for it to happen. He never wished anything bad for anyone. Not even him.

It did not matter that he caught him stealing money from his wallet. He offered to give him more if he needed help.

But Justin did not understand why the aggravation and the change of tone all of a sudden. What was with this attitude? The person who said a smile would make anyone’s day now suddenly lost his own. Without reason or explanation. He didn’t use to be like this.

And then it happened. The irritation brought about a quarrel which turned bloody. And then, he asked Justin for some water. Those fatal drops of transparent liquid would seal his fate.

For as soon as Justin returned with the glass in his hand he barely managed to avert a dagger stained with blood flying towards him. And his “friend” was falling butt-first out the open window. As if he was diving in a water-park fun pool.

He just made sure he would seemingly signal the culprit.

Thirty minutes had gone by, with Justin playing the scene over and over in his head. The sirens had become louder now.

He drank the water, placed the dagger in the glass and hid it in his inside coat pocket. He would leave no trace.

Only one.

An Italian gold carnival mask.

He was not known as the Harlequin for nothing.

The victim had after all smiled at his Colombina… And things, even a smile, are never what they seem…

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