The children of friends were recently in a community theater production of Beauty and the Beast. I always love seeing them perform and made the shlep from San Diego to Orange County to take pride in them along with their parents.
As I sat in the audience and watched the story unfold I contemplated something that had never occurred to me before—this is not just a children’s story, but an allegory about our lives. The transformation of the characters into objects is clever. I deliberated about how often we are defined by the careers or diversions we pursue. In a modern production of Beauty and the Beast a doctor might be depicted as a stethoscope, or an engineer as a robot, or a golfer as a golf club, and on and on.
More significantly, however, is the face of the ‘beast,’ a well-read, educated, hideous looking creature shunned by others because of his appearance. I started to think about how we look to others. I have been told that I have an ‘open’ face—you can tell what I may be thinking or feeling from what you see. Sure, I tend to smile a lot, but more than once someone has said to me, “I have seen that face before,” when I am angry or disagree with what is being said.
I pondered, how do I appear to others? What faces do I wear? Is it cheerful, thoughtful, disgusted, disinterested? I guess it just depends on the circumstances and the mood I am in at the moment. I recall sitting in some groups where everyone is laughing at a joke and sitting back not finding the gibes funny or even humorous, I guess with an irate expression, frowning and averting my eyes. Other times I have approached people with a smile only to be rejected. Was there something other than my face that gave a clue to my feelings, was I judged insensitive or uncaring? Not so sure.
When I look in the mirror, my mother’s face is reflected back at me. As I get older it is harder and harder to tell us apart. Last year I was ‘tagged’ on Facebook in an old photo. When I logged on I saw my mother and her sister and corrected the mistake. My face is my own, but it also the face of my mother, and hopefully her wisdom, as well as the face of the Bubby, the friend, the lover and the teacher…I wear all of these faces and more.
How about you?