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.
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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.