A Post Halloween Parable
The traveling salesman arrived on the afternoon train carrying two suitcases. On the side of one was painted Business and on the other Pleasure. He rented a room at Mrs. Murphy's Boarding House, and whenever he went out, everyone in town knew where he was headed. If he left Mrs. Murphy's house carrying the suitcase labeled Business, they knew he was on his way to work, even if he were going out to dinner. If he left carrying the suitcase marked Pleasure, he was out to have fun, even if he were going to work.
The traveling salesman was never seen without one or the other of his suitcases, yet no one knew what was inside them. When asked, he would only grin, place his index finger to his lips and wink.
Regardless of the secret contents of the suitcases, everyone found him charming both in business and socially. He was always perfectly at home in any situation. While swapping jokes and stories with the guys, if the phone would ring, snap-click and he was all business. Snap-click was the sound of the latch on his suitcase, which he opened and shut so quickly that you couldn't see what was taken out of it or put into it.
Whenever someone was draining his patience, talking endlessly about some trivial matter, snap-click and instantly the traveling salesman's temperament would be transformed into Buddha-like serenity. Yet, although his face was serene, you could see his left leg bobbing up and down like an oil rig.
While enjoying himself with friends at a cocktail party, if someone would grab his elbow, pull him aside and begin to monopolize him, his face would be that of a trapped animal. But, then, snap-click and in the flick of a latch, he would be the gracious, charming diplomat, eager to listen to the person's tale. As quickly as you can snap your fingers, his suitcase would be opened and closed, and the only indication it had even been unlatched was the faint snap-click.
His success socially and in business was due to his ability to be comfortable with anyone and in any situation. Everyone in town loved his company, and his name was on every guest list. Yet, like any traveling salesmen, the day came when it was time to move on to the next town.
However, tragically, on his way to the train station, he was crossing Main Street carrying his two suitcases when a driverless runaway truck struck him down and killed him. The truck's impact sent his suitcases flying out of his hands, high into the air and crashing back down to the street. As they hit the street, both suitcases split apart, scattering their contents on and around the body of the dead traveling salesman. The townsfolk gathered at the accident site stood open-mouthed, for he lay dead in the street surrounded by hundreds of different lifelike masks!
Unlike the Traveling Salesman, you don’t have a suitcase full of different masks…but you do have a few favorite ones. Halloween being over, our masks and costumes are stored away for another year, or at least should be. Yet many, if not most, continue to wear masks since success in business and the marketplace, along with societal good manners, require appropriate disguises. However, when these fake faces are worn day after day, week after week, sadly they gradually become glued in place and so are worn even to bed at night.
Masks are worn to hide our imperfections and more significantly to make us appear acceptable, a primal longing of each one of us. Death, the thief, steals not only life, it also removes all the masks of our various false selves, leaving it to the mortician to put on us a pretty face for our wake. A striptease is a major preparation to die! Take off any fake faces now before Death ultimately will remove them. Regardless of your age, in fact the earlier the better, strive to deal honestly with life and with death by being one-faced, your unique face.
But being unmasked, how can I meet the requirements of a polite society like when a situation requires a pleasant happy face and I don’t feel happy? Don’t do something on the outside like putting on a smiley-face mask. Instead do something on the inside! Descend deeply down into the profound depths of your soul to touch that indestructible core of inner happiness, and then ascend upward to the surface and simply let your inner-happiness radiate outward.