This opportunity can be challenging for people who feel uncomfortable dressing up and pretending to be someone they’re not. Sometimes, wearing a costume can make us feel we’re “putting on airs,” faking our way through a social situation. Some people put on a subtle costume every day, and when they feel terrible about it, their souls can suffer tremendously.
But what if we take up the spirit of Carnival and do the opposite, behaving and dressing in ways that are truer to who we really are? This personal authenticity is what I strive for in my own life, my art, and the way I run Castle in the Air. The people I surround myself with, and the friends I keep for the long haul, are those who live life with open hearts and aren’t afraid to show it.
In Venice, I saw people wearing costumes and personalities that were obviously different from the way they looked and acted the rest of the year. Carnival is a time to try it on, maybe exorcizing a few demons in the process, and even if I didn’t happen to like the characters I met, who am I to judge?
When I look at some of the pictures of myself from my time in Venice, I see fake hair, a fake face, fake flowers, fake everything! But the authenticity of individual pieces of my costume is immaterial. What matters is that when I put them together and joined in the parade, part of me felt as though it had been freed from a cage. I felt seen for who I truly am, even if it came off as a caricature of myself.
Personal truth is something we can hide from others, but we can never hide it from ourselves. The living of a life true to who we are is a gift we have to give ourselves, because no one else can. More often than not, though, we deny the gift, or let others take it from us.