Behind every mask there is a face, and behind that a story.
– Marty Rubin
Masks hide and protect those wearing them and allow to step out of normal life for a while, to try a new role. They exist in all cultures with different rituals and traditions. They originated when man began to develop the idea of a supernatural being.
The oldest mask representation is said to be about 11,000 years old and is allegedly from Israel. Until March 2020, mainly Asian tourists stood out by wearing masks and mouth-nose protection in their everyday life in Europe – one almost ‘smiled’ about them. Who of the smiling Europeans would have thought in the last years that from March 2020 onwards mouth-nose protection had become obligatory worldwide?
I use public transportation quite often and like to observe how I feel about wearing the moth-nose protection or how the behavior of the passengers has changed because of the masks. Sometimes I perceive it as a positive thing that the uniform image of those wearing masks can also create a sense of solidarity – we all look suddenly similar and are forced to hide very personal matters.
I have also noticed that the mouth and nose protection in the face make people speak louder and slower or to listen better. Then there are also moments like now in summer where you start to sweat in the heated subway with a mask on and breathing becomes difficult – that can be really unpleasant. And suddenly the focus is on the eyes when speaking and we are asked to ‘smile’ with our eyes to show friendliness and politeness or we use our gestures more. How do ‘unmasked’ children perceive ‘masked adults’? There were moments when I wondered whether some people were ‘happy’ to be able to hide behind the mouth-nose protection?
I also found myself matching the color of my mask with my clothes – but this made me think a little bit because I am very happy when we can all meet again in the ‘usual freedom and safety’ without the mouth-nose protection.
In BLOG 4 ‘Masked Society’ I am asking the following questions to my blog team Iku, Tara & Patrizia and all my readers:
JU’S 3 QUESTIONS OF THE MONTH
1. How do you experience wearing the “Corona” mouth-nose protection? What does the prescribed ‘masking’ in combination with ‘social distancing’ do to you and your feelings? How does the prescribed “masking” in combination with “social distancing” make you feel?
2. Which influential person/s of 2020 fascinate and inspire you and why? What are your leadership qualities?
3. How will this Corona period change our consciousness spiritually? How are you experiencing this great change on the planet?
👩🏼💼Patrizia Arthofer-Peer 🇦🇹🇧🇪🇺🇸🇬🇧
Patrizia and I met each other – more or less in London- in 1998, where we both worked as language assistants at different London schools. Very soon it was clear, that we both would experience a lot together. Until today we have a very wonderful and close friendship.
Patrizia comes from Ellbögen, Tyrol in Austria and is an elementary school and special education teacher and a speech therapist. She also studied Ethnology and International Development at the University of Vienna. Her hobbies are outdoor sports, gardening and travelling. She lives with her family in Neufeld an der Leitha, Burgenland in the eastern part of Austria.
What I appreciate about Patrizia is that she is incredibly “connected to earth” and that she thinks and acts very practically. I also appreciate her positive attitude, her close relationship with nature, her empathy and creativity.
🙎🏻♀️Iku Kamita 🇯🇵🇦🇹
I first met Iku at a workshop at the “Grandmother Turtle Center“
in Vienna in 2016 and from the beginning on I was curious why the pretty Japanese woman decided to leave her native island Okinawa, the island of the centenarians – part of the Japanese archipelag of the Ryūkyū islands – to live in Vienna. I soon discovered that it was Iku’s passion for music. She plays the piano, the violin, the guitar and the ukulele. She loves cooking, travelling, fine dining and interior design. Iku has been living in Vienna for 25 years now and works in the financial department of the United Nations (UN).
I admire Iku for her eye for beauty, her warmth and her openness and determination.
👩💼Tara West 🇨🇦🇬🇧
Tara and I met in June 2018 at Los Angeles International Airport LAX – each of us was waiting for an airport shuttle bus, when Tara asked me to look after her luggage while she would go to the toilet. She returned with two coffees, which I found very kind and we started to have a quick conversation about Toronto and Vienna, as there was only little time left for our buses to arrive. Tara and I then connected on Facebook – since then I have been enjoying reading and seeing Tara’s posts on Facebook. We definitely share some common interests and thoughts.
I am impressed by Tara’s photographic talent and creativity and by her extremely outgoing and sympathetic way of connecting with people as her life spirit as well.
👩🏼💼Patrizia Arthofer-Peer 🇦🇹🇧🇪🇺🇸🇬🇧
As Iive in the countryside I rarely wear the mask. I remember entering our small bakery with a mask for the first time. There I felt the feeling of respect and a bonding with the shop assistant and I had the feeling, that we both would rather meet by keeping the distance but without a mask. Meanwhile I think that the mask is important to not forget keeping the distance. I made an interesting experience shortly before the reintroduction of the mandatory face masks in supermarkets. I used the mask and was the only one with a mask in the shop. I had the feeling, that everybody kept distance because they saw me wearing a mask.
I am inspired by people who go their own way out of conviction. To accept the current situation and to make the best out of it inspires me more than the individuals. During the “lockdown” the focus was on relationships and how we live together – I found that amazing. My leadership quality is my authenticity. I am grateful for everything I can learn and experience in life. With my optimistic attitude I would like to inspire and motivate the people I am doing business with. I work with pleasure, devotion and passion. I enjoy supporting processes, where people can feel their self-efficacy.
I do not know if the Corona Period affects our consciousness in spiritual sense. I think that people who live their spirituality in their everyday life do so quite independently of Corona. The collective looking at areas where people usually like to look away is inevitable now – for example, working conditions in precarious jobs – and I think that this is good. Facts have been created worldwide. After a few days without cruise ships and crowds of people, the water in Venice cleared up and within a short time, natural spectacles occurred that nobody thought were possible. People who had never seen blue skies before were able to experience this for the first time.
🙎🏻♀️Iku Kamita 🇯🇵🇦🇹
For me personally, I prefer to wear the mask. I was doing it even before the law was passed in Austria right before the lock down started, even when people looked at me in a negative way. This may be due to my background coming from Japan, that in our culture it is normal to wear the mask when we have a cold and are coughing and sneezing, so that we don’t pass it on to the others. (i.e. it is our courtesy and consideration towards the others). And now with the COVID-19 being around, I find it safer if everyone would wear the mask, so that we are all protecting one another, as we do not know if we may be an asymptomatic virus carrier. Regarding the social distancing, I personally would rather call it physical distancing. We can still be very social towards one another even if we keep our physical distances. I feel more responsibility and awareness toward the protection of the society than before the COVID-19 pandemic started.
There are 2 people in 2020 that inspired me and helped me achieve something important. One was my Web course instructor Oyin Alonge for the Management Accounting course from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounting. It was a very tough and intensive course with over 50 students from all over the world, and he managed to keep us all engaged and concentrated. He had this charisma and energy that kept us all tuned, we all could feel that he wanted us to learn with joy but also to understand and to pass our exams. He did all the problem solving and posted it on Youtube so that we could learn better. I thought: How creative!
The second inspirational person is Tiffany Poon, an American pianist having a Youtube channel. She inspired me so that I came up with my own project to master the piano piece (Chopin Nocturne op 27 No.2) during the lock down. I call it my lock down project.
I think this Corona-time plays a big role in our spiritualism. I find that this period has helped us to persevere and strengthen our faith in God and in prayers. Also, I think it brought a lot of awareness to humankind that less is more, and that we have been overabundant in everything and it is time to slow down. To have more time to appreciate and contemplate.
It’s more about quality than quantity, less materialism and more spiritualism. It is good for our planet earth that there are less flights and cars in motion.
👩💼Tara West 🇨🇦🇬🇧
Tara’s Website: www.tarawestphotography.com
Masking, along with social distancing has been an unusual, yet interesting experience for me. As a photographer, I have been trained to be an observer of people. Habitually, and almost instinctually, at this point in my life, when I interact with people, I try to make them feel a comfort level, that allows me to connect and capture them as close to their natural state as possible. While I do believe the eyes are the windows to our souls, I truly never realized how much, I rely on the expression of the whole face, for this communication and human connection to happen. There is a ‘blankness’ or a void, as if all expression is missing, that I see, when I look at others with masks on. And there is a ‘blankness’ I feel within myself, when I wear one.
The social distance further enhances that feeling of absence, in the human connection for me. I can literally feel the fear in some people, to be too close to me, or to others, as we all shuffle away from each other to stand on our designated spot on the ground.
On many occasions, I have stood in the grocery store with tears in my eyes, feeling the restraint, the frigidity, and the breadth of dis- connection, with complete strangers, around me on many of occasions now. The irony does not escape me, how we are doing this to keep each other safe.
I am finding great fascination and inspiration from the likes of Jane Goodall, Dr. Zack Bush. For me those that connect to mother earth, and nature are our true teachers, and leaders, at this moment.
I am passionate about helping others. As a single mom, I was once in a position where I needed some help, and family, friends and complete strangers helped me, and my children rebuild. I will never forget that feeling and am committed to pay it forward. I prefer to quietly find those who could use an extra hand in life, and contribute to them directly, however I can.
It is my feeling that, this pandemic has collectively shaken us awake. I think more people will stop waiting to do many things.
We will start living a more conscious experience. Back to simpler times for many. While it has been adding many fears for many people, to me, it feels as though, it is simultaneously removing fears for others…changing jobs, considering big moves, alternate choices for educating their children, starting gardens, a focus on sustainable living, connecting to nature more, health conscious living…etc. .
I have connected to myself, my life differently. I have had some time to ‘Edit’ where I feel necessary.
Re-assessing my life, my choices, my path and how that fits into the world now. It has, once again, taught me the value of time. And reminded me how we each only have so much of it. Most of us do not get to know when our time here will end, but we all know for certain…it will end…and how we choose to explore that time, should be a deliberate, conscious choice. While it feels as though there is so much negativity attached to this, I am hopeful, it will all translate into an evolution and change into the greater good for humanities future.