Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children. ~Khalil Gibran
I have a passion for carved masks. I collect them from all over the world on my travels for either work, holidays, or fishing trips. I have African masks carved from wood and decorated with sea shells and beads, masks from Alaska carved from fossilised whale bone, masks from the Amazon tribes, clay masks from Europe. Every time I look at them I get the pleasure of being transported back in time and the memories of this or that trip come flooding in.
So it came to pass a while ago that I was hanging up a new pair of masks from Africa. This time the faces of a male and female. With my artistic eye (not) I decided to place the male mask next to, but a little higher than the female. Symbolising the gender differences and the cultural aspects of the highly decorative primitive African male in history and folklore.
Just as I put the hammer down and stood back to admire the masks and my creative hanging, my teenage daughter walked through the door, home from school.
“Great new masks, Dad! But why is one higher than the other?”
I barely finished my response (something about the male being higher than the female in African culture) when she erupted in a tirade about male chauvinism, sexist attitudes, untrue stereotypes, and a few other choice comparisons thrown in for good measure. And the topper was, “How could you be so old-fashioned and dense?”
I was stunned. It never occurred to me (a white, Anglo-Saxon, 60-something male) that I had made a major social blunder and displayed my ignorance to all.
So after she “advised” me on the proper alignment, we both stood back, admired our new masks, and then she was off upstairs to finish her homework and begin violin practice.
I stood there slightly dumbstruck and totally in awe at the maturity and social awareness of my 13 year-old daughter. I tried to remember back when I was 13 and my level of social awareness. Back in 1961 my only social awareness was to remember to say “Please” and “Thank You”. As I went to put my hammer away I smiled the smile of a proud father. I have no doubt this young woman will make it in this world.
Tight Lines . . .
John R Childress