Praying for Strangers

An adventure of the human spirit

The Masks We Wear

Relationships are born out of love, common bonds, and friendship.

I've been watching current events. No, I don't mean what's happening on the Afghanistan and Pakistan border (although I'm paying attention to that as well) but the primary news at work in the American grocery store check out line. Yes, you know our focus is on Demi Moore and Ashton Kutchner's careening and crumbled marriage. One thing is pretty certain. It's over. Done. Finito.
What isn't certain in any way shape or form is why it's over. Rumors have it (and a few videos as well) that Ashton was out a little late, a little wavering in his vows here and there. Oh, yes, of course and there is that age thing. *Full disclosure note - my husband is younger than I am. A fact that I don't parade around like some bizarre trophy. Things happen. People meet. Relationships are born out of love, common bonds, and friendship. A type of soul connecting. At least it did in our case and it wasn't something either of us had planned. Perhaps, the case of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones as well as many couples of all ages, races, cultures, religions that have surprisingly evolved the same way. These people have crossed some 'perception in a box' expectation of who we are expected to be as couples. Which extends of course to who we are expected to be as people in general  Neat. Predictable. Respectible unless you're rich and famous, of course. 

The truth is and always has been, in spite of our obsession with the private lives of public personalities, their insider jokes, intimacies, challenges and joys -  the sacred part of their relationships - will always remain a mystery to us. It doesn't matter how many Nanny's spill the beans on Angilina and Brad (and he did leave Jennifer because they were both just too blonde - right?) we don't know what's really happening between those two front-page gossip magnets. Truth can be an elusive animal and perception a particular key to understanding. I encourage you to seek out and read the Catts family trilogy by southern author, Janis Owens. It's the same story told through the perspective of three different characters. One story, three truths. All correct.


So I could give you my take on the Demi and Ashton soap opera moment. I don't think it's as simple as it seems. I think they were madly happy with each other in years gone by. Maybe happier than some people wanted them to be. But something went south. Not her, not him, not their differences or similarities. Maybe his taking on the new role from Charlie Sheen in Two and Half Men was a bad omen of things to come. Funny how Charlie spoke to the media recently saying the role wasn't cursed or anything because I had considered that. I had wondered if the influence of putting on a particular mask changed the person behind it. It honestly had occurred to me that perhaps the Ashton that once was began to shift into the Ashton that was now.


Regardless of the roles any of us play professionally or privately, I believe it is the bedrock of our spiritual strength that decides how far we fall or how high we rise.Which brings me forward to the only reason worth mentioning any of this. If we put on the masks our culture demands of us to feed on ((and even celebrate in the mean little parts of our hearts their hurts and failures because after all, aren't they just too pretty/handsome, rich, or spoiled for their own good so that they really need taking down a nottch?) then we endanger ourselves in becoming the people behind the judgmental mask we wear. An ugly sight it is like an old Twilight Zone episode. 


Maybe the day will come when we are so intent on the log in our own eye that we don't even notice the speck in our brothers. What happens between people in their intimate, private relationships? Well, I prefer they keep that to themselves and respect my choice to do likewise. In the meantime I'll try to ponder that verse of the Bible which I don't normally quote as often as I do Mark Twain, "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there be any moral excellence and if there be any praise, dwell on these things." If this were so, if we actually tried to do this in our daily lives for what - 30 days, a month, a year - do you think our very lives and communities would be different? Can you imagine the news stands and magazine racks, the television shows, and internet sites that would soon go silent if what we expected of them was to simply illuminate the very best of who we are instead of trapping us into a bottom-feeding frenzy of the dirty dis? 

We have greater places for our energies, untold outlets for our passions, and  world that needs our best creativity focused on what we are capable of as a people for the greater good. This news about Demi and Ashton, the Kardashians, the Brad's and Angilina's of the world, it's all a distraction to keep us from becoming everything we are meant to be both for ourselves and for each other. We don't have to wear the masks our culture would slyly demand we strap on. We can simply, reallly be ouselves and wish the  very best for each other. Even for Demi and Ashton. 

River Jordan is a playwright and novelist in Nashville.

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