Easter Sunday, frivolity in front of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. A flowered cross, and two tired grandchildren. Oh well, I had fun. Adults at play. I’ve been thinking about camouflage and masks and this Easter in NYC fit right in.
Masks are presumed to hid identities but don’t they also give the opportunity to reveal our inner essence or a wannabe self? A fox? A devil? A swanlike beauty? A pirate? A lone ranger?
We wear the daily masks and costumes of the entrepreneur, intellectual, nice person, young Turk, teacher, artist, elder states-person, sexy grandmother. We cover ourselves with the masks of our preferred persona. We do it for protection and for advancement and even subterfuge. And as denial against hard times.
If costumes and hats are masks, fanciful or daily mundane, aren’t make up and plastic surgery also? They deflect the viewers’ perceptions from the naked you in the direction you prefer: I am a person of style, I am a person with money, I am superior, I am gifted, I am eccentric, I am open and loving, I am clergy, I’m cool, I’m hot.
Or instead of deflecting, do they reveal the true you? The beautiful you? What if we all gave full bent to dressing as the creature we feel we are? A daily mardi gras? Could we wear rabbit ears daily? Tiaras?
Only the truly poor are deprived of the ability to mislead through what they wear and how they wear it. The man in front of the church was already dressed as a character, the homeless man. What would he have chosen to wear if given a choice to be not poor? What clothes would be his inner essence? A philosopher? A traveler? A visionary?
Yet, it was a lovely day. So many people smiling as though we were on the inside of a communal joke. A day when clothing is meant consciously as play, as celebration of rebirth and resurrection – resurrection of self, which seems to depend upon a time of dormancy and returning to the ground, of gathering strength to rise in full bloom, the miracle of being human and sacred.