A Face or a Mask?


James – St George Utah – April 2017

Actors are so good at changing their faces, their voices, even their bodies as they leap from one role to the other, but you can never tell what’s really going on behind their eyes.

What is a portrait? A photo? A drawing? It certainly isn’t an image of the soul. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, but I’m not buying it. First off, it’s a gross misinterpretation of Matthew 6:22-24, and beyond that, you can’t really look into someone’s eyes and tell anything significant about them.

Well, maybe if you know them really well, but certainly not a stranger.

That’s what we are to each other…strangers. Oh, we read each other’s stories and comment about how we perceive them, but internet contact is not the same as face-to-face human contact. Even Skype doesn’t fully communicate the full impact of being in the physical presence of another person.

So why do we take portraits? Whether paintings or photographs, people seem to have a historic fascination with them.

The whole Shroud of Turin hoax leveraged people’s desire to see the physical face of Jesus. Does it matter what he looked like? Would it tell us anymore about him than the Gospels teach, or that our faith reveals to us?

So today’s writing challenge is to post an image of ourselves as authors and as people and to say something about who we “really” are.

But at least for me, as a would-be author of fiction, it’s not who I am or even who I would like to be, but rather, it’s the stories I tell. This journey is a lot more difficult emotionally than I imagined, though I don’t know why that’s surprising.

Maybe I just wanted it to be easier. It’s why I’m avoiding this prompt. Reality fuels the passion by which we write, but I don’t always have to like it.

This is my face. What does it mean to you?

I wrote this for Photo Challenge #212 hosted at Mindlovemistery’s Menagerie. Today, the challenge is to post an image of ourselves and then self-disclose who we are.

Never the traditionalist, I decided not to comply…well, exactly.

The photo is a one of a series taken by my son David when I needed to upload a portrait of myself to the website promoting a textbook I had co-written.

Addendum: I switched out the original photo with a “selfie” I took the day after my Dad died.

9 thoughts on “A Face or a Mask?

  1. What can I say? It’s a nice face, but attempts to read something of the soul behind it are limited by the fixed expression of a photograph. Live observations gain additional insight from the expressions of a face, and particularly around the eyes, as the owner of that face reacts to stimuli. But can faces deceive, just as surely as words may deceive? Probably; though one may wonder if even a skilled actor may not reveal something of his or her own personality while trying to portray a character foreign to their own personality. Similarly, can a writer truly avoid revealing something of his or her own personality while telling various stories? Beyond that, there is the question posed by C.S. Lewis in his book ” ‘Til We Have Faces”, suggesting that we cannot express our true “face” until we know ourselves thoroughly (which may require the outside help and insight of a Higher Power).

    Liked by 1 person

    • The missus long ago made…uh, convinced me to lose the beard because she says it makes me look too old in the workplace (like I care). Other than that, thanks, and yes I agree, only the Almighty knows our true “face.”


  2. It’s a good picture but doesn’t convey the man behind the face. How often do we actually present our true selves to others? How many times do we hide our feelings behind a smile or pretend all is well when it’s far from it?
    I describe myself as an onion, always another layer underneath. Even Hubby is still ‘peeling’.


    • I think there are people we reveal more of ourselves to than others, but we probably don’t unveil 100% of who we are to anyone. I think that’s a role that only God can fulfill.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like your face, although that is a serious picture with sort of sad eyes. That’s okay, you seem a serious guy to me, Just my opinion. I like beards on men, proves you have lived a life.☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you’re talking about the photo of me in the green shirt, I took that selfie the day after my Dad died, so yeah, I was serious and sad. I had a more standard photo posted originally only because I couldn’t find a way to get this off my phone and online. Fixed now.


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