Well, after the tiring hype that’s been happening since September, Halloween has finally arrived. The holiday seems more anti-climatic than in previous years. I suppose that’s what so much marketing and expectation does to such days as today. I’m afraid that much the same is happening to Thanksgiving, which might as well be called “Football Day”, and Christmas, which some might call “Consumerism Day”.
At least one 20th century tradition has continued into the present day–that of ramping up fear. We love to view scary movies. Which ones will you see? There’s “Jeepers Creepers”–a fairly recent addition. Then there’s the perennial favorite, “Psycho”. Perhaps you’ll watch the movie, “Halloween” for good measure. Whichever horror movies we choose, the idea is to self-induce fearful emotions.
I’ve reached the time of life when I don’t watch scary, thrillers anymore. In fact the last time I laid down cash to see a frightening movie was in 1993 to see “Jurassic Park” at the local cinema. There were so many plausible, fearful scenarios in that film that I had anxiety attacks for several days afterwards. I soon swore off of horror movies altogether.
I don’t need to artificially generate fear in my life. There are real-life fearful things galore. Repressive, regressive political movements, the continuing pandemic, global climate change, climate change denial, destructive weather phenomenon, threats of accidental falls, and traffic accidents. The list includes various health and disability issues that arise often without warning. Did I somehow leave out violent crime?
“The reason most people don’t express their individuality and actually deny it, is not fear of what prime ministers think of us or the head of the federal reserve, It’s what their families and their friends down at the bar are going to think of them.”– broadcaster and conspiracy theorist, David Icke
While I place very little stock in conspiracy theories, Icke has pinpointed very common fears–the fear of who we really are and having other people find out about us. These fears are some of the saddest fears because they cause us to restrict our own freedom by our own doing. These fears are the building blocks of the prison walls we construct in our minds. The longer we imprison ourselves in this manner, the more insidious and normal the restrictions appear. The subconscious fears hold us prisoner until we either entirely submit, or we resolve to break free of our bondage to them.
It is this “prison break” that can seem most frightful. That is until we see the fears for what they are–fabrications and illusions of the mind. We realize that our fears are paper tigers because other people have their own fears and couldn’t care less about our hang-ups. When fears’ gig is up, we experience the joy of freedom and liberation.
Meantime, Halloween is the time to contemplate existential fears like life and death–mainly death. Today’s holiday has evolved into a reasonably harmless way to do this. If you enjoy horror movies and terrifying stories, more power to you. I truly hope you have a fun time. Meanwhile, my Halloween will be more sedate. There will be a large bowl that is full of nasty, sugary snacks lying in wait for the young ghouls, goblins, and other creatures that go bump in the night. I wonder what the little children will masquerade as this evening. I will probably play some pipe-organ music on the stereo for background.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Canadian attorney and writer, Robin S. Sharma. “The fears you run away from run toward you. The fears you don’t own will own you. But behind every fear wall, lives a precious treasure.”