The Fox is a very clever little creature, he’s had to be, in order to survive. One of his means to do just that is to backtrack, stepping in his own paw prints, to confuse whatever pursuers are hounding him. And although I have never truly considered myself a ‘foxy’ lady, other than on a mental level on occasion, I intend to incorporate the fox’s behavior in today’s article. Which means I’m going to do some backtracking in my own footprints, sort of speak.
A while back, I wrote about the Masks we wear, especially in public. We do that so as to continue to belong within whatever society we find ourselves in, be that a peer group, fellow workers, friends, and yes, even (maybe especially) family. We do that by hiding behind a Mask that is, or so we think, more acceptable to the group, than the face of what we are actually feeling, thinking, and doing.
Like the fox, whose coloring is extremely noticeable in the often green and brown landscape he inhabits, we learn to be clever, and quick about hiding our real state of being, especially when we feel or think that that state of being we are in is unacceptable, inadequate, or just won’t do for the circumstances we inhabit. Most of us learn, at a very young age, that a smile and accommodating demeanor will far more quickly get us through, and to, what we want or need, then a scowl, or howl, or an abrasive, aggressive appearance. And in that sense, we like the fox, adopt those demeanors which will allow us to preserve ourselves, keep our sense of belonging intact.
We wear Masks. Masks are fascinating things and have an intriguing history. There have been cultures that have based their entire belief systems on masks that are called ‘false faces.’ And by doing so, actually create a secret society for their members. Belonging means one recognizes and accepts those false faces for what they symbolize and act, react accordingly. There was a time when a masquerade ball was an occasion of intrigue and excitement, because the intricate masks participants wore, allowed one to move within ones society of peers, but, at the same time, behave in ways that were outside of the rules of said society. And here, on the Internet, we use avatars to represent whatever identity we choose to display at any given moment. Which is to say, that things haven’t changed all that much over time.
So, what are we really hiding behind the masks that we wear? All those things that we have come to define as inadequate, inappropriate, less than acceptable, unseemly, or worse, just plain wrong. Our definitions might be skewed, unbalanced, or lacking in logic, or wholeness, but we will stick by them until we find they no longer serve their, our purpose. We do that because we learned a great many of them within our family unit, which is the most basic unit of society, and therefore the first, and possibly or often, the strongest influence as regards our individual socialization process.
What is the fox actually hiding when he engages in all of those clever actions to confuse and confound his hounding pursuers? Much the same thing as we are when we put on our Masks. He is hiding his true state of being, his wildness, and that often startling and beautiful coloring that sets him apart from all other creatures. That which marks him as a target for chasing and possible extinction at a moments notice. And just like him, we understand that we too must hide those things that set us apart, might not allow us to go on existing within our families, our peer groups, our fellow employees, and so on.
And just what are those specific things? Many of them are the Wild Things I have been discussing. Like the boy, I used as an example. His interest and fascination with poetry wasn’t wrong, nor was it misplaced, or even inadequate for his age and abilities. But it created a situation in which his basic social unit erupted into chaos, anger, and misunderstanding. So, he interpreted that to mean it was unacceptable. He chose to ignore that piece of his own development, putting on a mask that was, as far as he was concerned, far more acceptable. He chose to suppress that Wild Thing inside of himself, which wasn’t wild at all, but certainly occasioned some rather wild results.
His actions and choices were based in what he knew at that time. But they gave birth to that Wild Thing inside of him that came back to haunt him on occasion with its desire to express himself in a certain manner. And each time he suppressed and ignored its calling, he, in effect, contained it, hid it behind what he had decided was a better face, a more appropriate mask within the environment in which he lived.
Furthermore, he actually defined it as a Wild Thing, a part of himself that didn’t fit within the boundaries of the piece of the socialization process blanket under which he existed. Talk about backtracking, hunh? That is what I said I was going to do. Which leaves us with the Fox, the Wild Thing, and a whole lot of questions.
Maybe only one or two. Is that a sigh of relief I hear? So, like the fox, it might be much more important, than we have so far realized, to backtrack on our own footprints through this journey we call life. Find and come to know those pieces and parts of us that have been kept outside, ignored as much as possible, and contained in that wilderness of the imagination. If you ask me how to do that, I will simply point you to the Introduction of this blog.
It is my intention to introduce you to some of the Wild Things I have encountered and yes, befriended on my own backtracking adventures. Who knows, I might even tell you about the actual wild foxes who seemingly, but very deliberately, crossed my path to help me know what I know about the extremely important messages they came to teach me. You didn’t really think this was the only one, did you?