Happy Halloween! LET'S GET SCARED!
It's Halloween today! Happy Halloween, Smarties! I hope that everyone understands and loves your costume, that no one bashes your Jack-o-lanterns in, and that the Great Pumpkin brings you everything your heart desires!
Ahem. (Image Source)
It may come as no surprise, given my penchant for dressing up in silly costumes and eating fistfuls of cheap candy, that I LOVE Halloween. It is hands-down my favorite holiday of the year. It's the chaos of it that I find most attractive. Nothing makes sense on Halloween, except for the nonsense economy of demanding candy through alliterative phrasing that also promises retribution should candy be denied... and then actually getting it.
Even beyond that perverse "Trick or Treat" transaction, pretty much anything goes. Jedis, superheroes, and fairies roam the night, breaking pedestrian laws and snarfing treats. People casually light fires inside of gourds on their porches with no repercussions from the Fire Department or homeowners' insurance companies. Children can dress up like adults, adults can dress up like children, and EVERYONE regardless of propriety can be deemed sexy. Halloween is a total shitshow, people. It is everything that we love (Surprise! Humor! Sugar!) and everything that we hate (Venality! Candy-driven blackmail! Sexualizing toddlers!) in one special day. It's my kind of shitshow. One that shocks and delights, one that appalls and thrills.
And also one that scares.
Perhaps the best and worst element of Halloween is the way in which it is an opportunity to terrify and disgust ourselves. The whole purpose of the holiday, besides high-fructose corn syrup and 2T corsets, is to make ourselves feel all of the emotions we generally avoid. It is the one time a year we actively seek that which usually repels. Terror? We want it. Mortification? We seek it out. Casual startle-inducing pants-pissing or disgusting-food-prompted mouth-barfing? Bring it on! It's a strange psychological impulse to indulge in a seasonal love for what we hate, but a lot of us do it and it is mostly fun.
Here. Put this in your mouth. Oh, it's already full of vomit? I'll wait while you swallow... (Image Source)
But if we seek this kind of stimuation in our lives, even if once a year as the nights get longer and the weather colder, wouldn't it make sense to do it for good? If we secretly long for the stimulation of fear and terror, then why do some of us also desperately avoid addressing that which scares us in our real lives? And couldn't we use Gretchen Rubin's strategy of pairing - in which you pair something enjoyable (watching TV) with something challenging (working out at the gym) by only doing the two together (watching TV while working out at the gym). What if we paired our pleasurable fears with your plain, old, run-of-the-mill scary fears in order to feel our desired terror AND get things done?
For example, Yes, you can watch The Witch after dark, but only after you have sacked and/or oved up and called an attorney about making your will.* Yes, you can buy yourself that horrifying Halloween mask, but only after you finally make those 3-day emergency kits for each member of your family and safely store them away. Sure, you can eat baby Snickers for dinner, but only after you've figured out a rough estimate of what you'll need for retirement and considered what it will take to reach something close to that number.**
And you thought you were scared before! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
So, in this, our season of terror, I encourage you - I encourage all of us - to confront the fear of what we really need to do and what will really be of benefit to us.We're all avoiding something because it scares us. My list is ridiculously long, but I at least promise to make an appointment for my yearly physical, which means NEEDLES and PROBING and probably a BRUTAL MOLE REMOVAL. It's disgusting, it's painful, it's scary, and it's necessary. I promise to do this, and I hope that you'll promise to face your fears, too. (Although your fears may now include my mole removal, and there's nothing either of us can do about that.)
GET IT OFF ME! GET IT OFF ME! That there is a star-nosed mole, and I was a lot happier before I knew they existed. (Image source)
And those 3 day emergency kits? I don't have 'em! Given that I live on the Pacific Rim itself, I think about how I need them daily. And then I cringe and avoid just buying the damned water and canned goods and first aid supplies. Why? Because it is scary, that's why! I promise to do it anyway, though, because what better time than a dedicated season of facing fear to look that anxiety in its (undoubtedly creepy clown) face and cut it down to size with some positive action. Yes, Halloween is all about fear. But it can be all about courage, too.
I love Halloween. I love being silly and transgressive and thrilled with fear. And, as much as I love those things, I love getting shit done. And so I'm going to couple the two together this year, adult like a mofo, and then enjoy myself like a kid on Halloween. On, um, Halloween. (You get it.)
Join me, won't you? And when you're done being brave, I promise there's some candy corn waiting for you at the end of your discomfort and fear.***
*Want to know what's scary? Half of us don't have one. And I know that making a will costs money and requires research and heavy thought. I also know that it's worth it, and a lot of what holds people back from even beginning to figure out what it takes to make a will is fear of the unknown, the discomfort of confronting death, and the perceived hassle of the project. Face those fears, people! At least look into a service like Get Your Shit Together to get the ball rolling.
**And I know that not all of us are able to make the estimated number of what we need and the estimated number of what we'll have look remotely like one another. I get that. I know that not everyone can save for retirement - maybe not yet, maybe not ever. But if what's stopping you from planning for your financial future is fear alone, then that is worth confronting.
***You can have all of mine. Primarily because it tastes like scented candle wax.