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Location: Midwest, United States

Monday, December 26, 2005

Three Faces

About two decades ago or so, I heard someone say that the Japanese believe we all have three faces: our public face…our private face…and our true face. Now, I don’t know if this is a strongly held cultural belief or not. I’m embarrassed by my ignorance of Japanese culture. Regardless, the three faces thing just kind of got stuck inside my head and I’ve been thinking about it, on and off, ever since.

It rings true to me. I have a public persona quite different from my private persona. Publicly, I appear to most people as highly extroverted. I wasn’t that way at all as a boy, but time and experience led to profound changes in my public persona. I gave lots of public speeches, became very involved in all aspects of hazardous site cleanups, lived a very public life. That led me to talk and interact with a great many people. I always acted calmly, courteously, respectfully and thoughtfully. In all my years of work, my peers only saw two momentary flashes of anger. I was always upbeat and energetic…always on the go.

My private face is that of an introvert. I seek solitude in order to recover and, at times, heal. My private face reveals a great many more emotions…anger, despair, frustration, whimsy, love, grief, sensitivity, frivolity, capriciousness, passion and loneliness.

Now, the true face is a bit of a mystery, no? One needs to meditate in some way or another to find that face. Here is where art comes into play. I rely on all manner of art to discover the dimensions of my true face. I learn what resonates inside, what doesn’t. Music plays a vital role in this, as does art. For many years I kept a small, spiral-bound blue notebook. I would copy passages from poetry, literature and drama that struck chords deep inside. This collection of sayings pointed me in directions I felt my heart must go. My true face has always longed to be good, pious, true and loving.

* * *

What do we do with this awareness of our triad of faces? For many years, I considered the three faces in a negative sort of way. We can interpret the paradigm of the three faces to mean that we can easily appear to be “good” people to others. The private face may turn out to be one of a verbal-abuser, a physical-abuser, a hypocrite, or a thing of evil…it happens. The true face, then, would be filled with wounds and secrets…a scary face…a face of darkness…a face that must remain hidden. I’m sure Freud saw a lot of people to be this way.

I would rather embrace a different interpretation. I believe that my public persona is generally an agreeable one. I also believe my private face is far richer, far more interesting, demonstrative, and reflective. I often wished I could reveal more of my private face to my employees. The business world requires a certain decorum, a certain distance. I wish it weren’t so, but I understand why that is.

Without a doubt, my private face has its ugly facets. I wage a constant battle to overcome traits that diminish…or harm…others. It isn’t easy being human. Still, the goal remains to live a private life such that I’m willing to reveal all to anyone remotely interested in knowing me. To date, I’ve failed in this regard (I will say, though, that my closest friends know all, so it’s not as if I absolutely won’t reveal my personal face. It’s just that I’m not particularly proud of the way I look). That’s just a sad fact. But, hey, better late than never! Tomorrow’s another day, another chance to do better. My private face will always be a work in progress, but I do not shy away from bringing that face into the light of day.

I see my true face as essentially good. I’ve probed the dark recesses of my heart and have found nothing that truly scares me. Disturbs me, at times? Yes. Despite that, my true face is mostly benign…the face of a young, earnest boy filled with awe, curiosity, piety and an enormous thirst for love. I yearn to reveal my true face to others. I believe this desire serves as the root for my dreams of achieving true intimacy someday.

To me, the paradigm of the three faces is an exhortation to have three faces that appear richer and more beautiful as others come to witness them. I wish to lead a private life that is more beautiful than my public one. I yearn, with all my heart, to reveal my true face to the one I love.

* * *


Blogger Green-Eyed Girl said...

I'm reading through your writings here. I had to start at the earliest one and work my way forward, because to do it any other way would not satisfy me. I have to say at this point that your writing somehow shames me. Not that I ever thought or said that anything I put up on my blog was deep thinking, or polished writing. Most of it is silliness, a way to interact with a few people in a different way. But your words are so full and varied and alive. You either are a natural talent or you've put the work in that it takes to create beautiful writing. I admire it.

-- Green-Eyed Girl

Mon Jan 15, 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Thank you, Ms. Green Eyes.

As I wrote at the outset, I don't consider myself a writer. My goal was to capture my thoughts as best I could, and let the chips ( this case...words) fall where they may.

I'm glad you've taken the time to explore my musings. That is compliment enough.

Mon Jan 15, 11:00:00 PM  
Anonymous trueloveneverdies said...

Personally, I believe that every human being is born with an equal amount of ugliness that is encoded in human nature itself. Ugliness is unavoidable. Ugliness is fact.
And once this general knowledge of humankind is understood and ACCEPTED, one may understand the individual roles of, and the relations between one's personal face, one's true face, and one's public face.

I am inclined to believe that everybody is born with EQUAL amounts of ugliness riddling their insides, which may pop up on their personal face, just like a zit might, at any given time in the course of their life. Therefore, in my opinion, one's personal face IS the all-encompassing ugliness born in each human being (inevitable, of course, as a law of human nature).

The true face is the key player in this trio, as it is the face that meets the personal face and decides whether or not to introduce it to the public face.
In order to befriend the personal face, the true face must be willing to recognize each new flaw (as ugly as they may be) one at a time as they make themselves apparent from within.
A tender, gentle, and compassionate true face will accept the personal face as is, as an inevitable fact of human nature, without judgement or shame. Furthermore, an egoless true face will acknowledge that no matter how old he is or how wise he is, he can expect to find ugliness arising on his personal face for the remainder of his life.
If the true face can simply ACKNOWLEDGE each flaw as reality, as a truth of human nature that cannot be prevented, then the true face has just become AWARE of the PRESENCE of such an ugliness. And if the true face can do this simple, but courageous task, it can then turn to the public face with a new acquaintance to befriend. In this way, the public face becomes mindful of every presence of ugliness in that particular human being, which has been revealed so far, compliments of the true face.
In other words, the public face simply shows the AWARENESS of the ever-growing collection of "ugly" human traits that has been revealed about oneself thus far in life. When one becomes more and more mindfully aware of himself within, he naturally becomes more and more understanding, kind, and loving of himself and of every other human being, because he realizes the same flaws exist in everyone around him (whether they are aware of it or not).
The more personal flaws that a true face opens up to, the more natural human traits the public face becomes aware of. And the more aware the public face is of his own human flaws, the friendlier one may become with himself and with others around him, the more accepting he may become of himself and of others around him, and the more loving one may become of himself and of others around him, and collectively, the more beautiful a person will become, from the inside shining out for all to see.

Wed Mar 26, 01:56:00 PM  
Anonymous trueloveneverdies said...

With that said, it is very courageous and beautiful of you to wish to reveal your true face to your love. Public faces are surface level and thus reveal themselves, and personal faces are all the same in that they are all just as ugly as each other. But to reveal one's true face to another is to open up oneself without shame, pride, or ego, and expose oneself as bare as can be: as a tender, gentle, and loving person.

I wholeheartedly believe that the initial sparks of lust that ignites between two lovers will survive and continue to grow into true love, when both man and woman allow their true faces to stand naked in front of the other. Intimacy is when you can see (and come to know and love) the body AND soul of the woman you love, and she can see (and come to know and love) the body AND soul of you, the man she loves.

p.s. As I am coming to know you, reading your blog thus far... Jonas, let me tell you, you are radiantly beautiful just as you are.

Wed Mar 26, 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Awww, Ms. TrueloveND, you made me blush...

Thu Mar 27, 12:28:00 AM  
Blogger Pamela said...

You've been plagiarized here.

Which is a shame, because your post was better the first time.

Mon Jul 12, 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Pamela said...

but you caught that already.

Mon Jul 12, 12:27:00 PM  

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