Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Ceremony of The Burning Mask

I decided enough was enough. I decided... I am through with this insidious disease, this parasite that infects my mind and causes me to believe things that are untrue. I have made my decision to move on, but to do so I feel it only appropriate that I lay to rest this companion of mine for so long... this constant friend, foe, devil in disguise... I felt that it should be final, there should be a place where its life ceased to exhist and where a new life can emerge from the ashes... Like a Pheonix... Rise up from the ash... Powerful, exhilerating, beautiful... Full of life.

I set about pulling together my tools. Paper, glue, magazine clippings, words... dirt, leaves... An arsenal of things for me to create art with... to make a symbol, to make a statement.

Feverishly I began my work. Knowing somewhere deep inside that it must be done if I ever hoped to be rid of my pain. Feeling a sense of urgency, realizing that this was it... after the deed was done there could be no going back.

As I strung together beads, and pasted together bits of paper, splashing bits of ground micah and earth into the mess... A form began to emerge. Slowly at first, nothing more that a mound of material. Then, almost suddenly it begins to reveal itself. A mask.

This is an old mask... one I have been wearing for years. One that represents the things that eat away at my soul, the things that wear on my mind and break down my body... These things I have been running from for nearly half my life. It has become somewhat of a shrine really. A collection of the dark, the deadly, the poisonous things that have lived too long in my head. And strangly, as I stare down at it... I find it beautiful, attractive, somewhat alluring. I find myself getting choked up at the idea of what I am about to do. I think, perhaps I can just lock it away where it can never be found... I can maybe just hide it and only I will know it is there, afterall this is such an old companion, a familiar friend that I have turned to in my darkest hours. Can I ever really be anything without it? It has always been there, never has it turned me away in a time of need... But NO! I have made my decision.

I quietly open the door and walk to the back yard. I set my mask on the ground at my feet and I sit down next to it. I then pull out a pen and a peice of paper and pour myself out onto the sheet. I write, and I write, and I write... I put down EVERYTHING. The reasons why, the things I could never say out loud. The things I have wanted to scream and cry... The things I have longed to let go of but never could find the courage. I write until I am out of paper, until I have nothing left to say. Nothing left but goodbye.

Folding the paper up into fourths, I place it behind the mask. I take them both and lay them gently in the bottom of my chiminea. I strike a match and set it on top of my mask, my words unspoken, my life before... And watch as it burns. I watch the ashes float up into the sky reaching towards the stars. I watch the paper crumble and turn to ash. I watch until there is nothing left... And then I breathe.

I breathe deeply, and I feel a freedom I have not known in many years... I smile, and I feel the weight lifting. I see there are many roads in front of me that I can take now, I just couldn't see them before through the limited vision I had while I was still wearing the mask.

** I wrote this on February 17th 2006 after I burned my mask... It is written about the battle I have been fighting with an eating disorder for the last 13 years, and the relapse I went into in the beginning of last year... Every day is different, and some are harder than others. In April it will have been a year...

See more "Goodbyes" here