Geeky Stoics
Geeky Stoics
So We Put On A Mask

So We Put On A Mask

Avatar The Last Airbender's crucial monologue on "masks"

In the new live-action adaptation of Airbender, Uncle Iroh is reflecting on the suffering of his nephew, Prince Zuko, who has been banished from home for not being as cutthroat and ruthless as his father would like him to be. Zuko tries very hard to impress his father, but Zuko has a big heart, and it makes the task impossible.

Zuko lives his life day to day not being his true self, not letting that heart show. The reason is simple. Showing his heart got him hurt very badly when his father laid fire to half of his face as a punishment for it.

It breaks Iroh’s heart. Zuko should not have to wear the mask of a brute to make his father proud. That is a burden no child should have to carry.

So Iroh begins to speak about the power of Masks. Here is what he says:

It's amazing how far we'll go to hide our true selves from the world.

Perhaps it's because we don't want people to know how much they really mean to us. Which is funny.

Because the truth is, we would do anything for them.

We'd travel incredible distances, risk our lives, even fight monsters.

But I suppose it can be scary to admit you need people.

Some might see that as a weakness, a liability.

After all, what greater pain is there than losing someone you love?

Or worse, finding out someone you love has left you behind.

I guess that's why we feel the need to hide away and protect ourselves.

So we put on a mask.

It's not hard to understand why.

What's hard is knowing that sometimes, the mask is who we really are.

What masks do you wear? I wear a few.

Not all are bad. Some are good.

When I do TV or public speaking I put on the mask of a confident person. It’s necessary because I am terrified. The mask gives me some needed strength.

When I am with my daughter I wear the “Dad Mask”. As Dad, I don’t overburden her with my problems, I don’t share what’s not in the bank account, I don’t overplay the fact that 75% of the time I don’t know what to do about anything……because she needs the feeling of security. It takes courage to wear that mask as a parent. There will be times when that mask needs to come off, and that will require bravery as well.

We play certain roles to stay alive or make it in this world.

My hope is that by reading this email today, you’ll begin to think about what masks play a role in your life, and be able to at least name them. When you are conscious of what they are, and when you put them on, you’ll have better control over their role in your life. But that does take reflection. Take that time today.

Geeky Stoics is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

Geeky Stoics
Geeky Stoics
Your favorite stories are part of your real life. Star Wars. The Lord of the Rings. Marvel. Batman. Are you listening to what they’re trying to tell you? Geeky Stoics is all about Stoicism, Philosophy, and Wisdom found in Pop Culture.