Wearing a mask. For five minutes.

You had your five minutes, my mother told me over the phone. Now, others will have their five minutes also, and life will go on.

This was easy for her to say, as she is a 24/7 woman who is stronger and wiser than youngsters like me, I thought. [What a generous comment about my own age!] My mom is right.

On reflection, I had many five-minute-years of being accomplished in what I was doing. Now, those minutes are gone, and I find myself in a desert of bewilderment. So, someone’s decision took away a mask of my importance, and now I talk to my mom asking whether wearing a mask is important, even for five minutes?

What my mom was actually saying was positive. It was her way to welcome me into a life of ordinary people. You probably forgot how important we are, we the ordinary people, she was saying. Your job lasted five minutes. And probably you did well. Now, welcome back and let others enjoy their own five minutes. They will succeed or fail, loose of find, and their own five minutes will be quickly over, too.

Enter Darren Clarke, the now celebrated winner of the golf’s 2011 British Open Championship. As they say, watching golf is like watching the paint dry. My own cynicism about golf was given a conversion jolt as Mr. Clarke freely distributed abundant smiles, even when he just miscalculated a shot. He smiled with a permanent grin. If a heart has a set of bright teeth, Mr. Clarke owns one. His was a grin of joy. He entered into his five minutes of attention.

In a post-victory interview he selflessly admitted being an ordinary guy. But what ordinariness he presented. I tried 19 times before, but I never stopped trying. Now I did it. But I am an ordinary guy, he simply claimed.

Darren Clarke’s accomplishment was a bright moment in a week of the usual bad news on TV (the Rupert Murdoch’s media empire’s slow but riveting demise topping the bill). Some of us still love the media when it is honest, moral, and when it goes for and reports the character building news. So, here was Mr. Clarke, a winner finally, and if he was wearing a mask, it was one of authenticity. That’s how I feel.

So, I am dealing with my own bewilderment by re-entering a world of ordinary people where authenticity, integrity, compassion and generosity are lived with gusto! A tear got lost in my eye when I was watching Darren Clarke’s joy. He shared it with all of us and he wore it on his face.

It wasn’t a smile No. 17C with a spin.

Photographs: (top) Masked Women at Corpus Christi Festival
in Cuzco, Peru; (Middle & bottom) Mannequins
in Singapore's Chinatown.


  1. Ray

    This was a terrific piece. I love the photography. Well, you may deem yourself ordinary at this moment you have extraordinary gifts with your camera. The article was exceptional as well.

    I have always felt that I am a very ordinary person. No exceptional gifts from my perspective. Work hard was the ethic of my mother that was instilled in me. Work yields results. It is not because I am special, it is because hard work brings results. Cause and effect. So your comparison to Darren Clarke seems so appropriate. I think "specialness" of people is best when not recognized by themselves but rather by others. Welcome to the world of ordinary people....even if you are not Ray.


  2. To paraphrase what'shisorhername, God must love ordinary people because He made so many of us. Hey, enjoy every 23 hours & 55 minutes of every day. To someone, you're special those other five minutes. Total: 24 hours. What more can any of us ask?

  3. I love your post. Its no doubt so humbling, and probably quite deflating to realize that one doesn't have to do anything other than be normal without having something 'important to do'.

    I've had these events occurring quite frequently for myself as I realize that whatever I chose to do in life, it's only important and significant in the eye of the beholder for a brief flash... and whenever I think I'm doing something extraordinary and important, I realize that I have laundry to do, money to earn, and I don't have staff.