I've never been all that into Halloween. Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely into eating candy, but it's just not one of my favorite holidays. This might have something to do with growing up in a conservative Christian city where, for the most part, bobbing for apples at Church festivals is the extent of the celebration of Halloween. Growing up, we didn't talk too much about "the dark side." After all, it was the Christians who started All Saints Day, a day for celebrating saints and martyrs, a "holier" holiday than its predecessor, the pagan-rooted Samhain. Samhain, an ancient harvest festival with roots in Celtic paganism, marked the transition from the light time of year to the dark time of year. It was believed that the line between the living and dead worlds became thin on this day and that the spirits of the dead came to the living world on Samhain to destroy crops and spook the living. Well, we all know what Halloween is today, a 5 billion dollar (in the US alone) celebration of candy and costumes, the second highest grossing holiday after Christmas. Don't get me wrong, that's all well and good, but this year, I've been thinking about the roots of Halloween, the idea of light and dark and the fact that neither one can exist without the other. Though it's tempting to do so, I think it's dangerous to deny the dark side of humanity. It exists within us all. I don't believe that people are born inherently good or evil. That just seems unfair.
"Man is a demon. Man is a god. Both true."
(from Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love)
We are born with and live our whole lives with a heart that has equal potential to expand and to contract. This year, for me, Halloween is a time to reflect on that, to admit and accept it as Truth. For me, the beauty of THE GOOD IN YOU is that being Good, doing Good, is a choice, the way Love is a decision and an action. And now I'll leave it to a real writer, Barry Lopez, to say exactly what I mean:
"No culture has yet solved the dilemma each has faced with the growth of a conscious mind: how to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in all life, when one finds darkness not only in one's own culture but within oneself. It there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse. There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of a leaning into the light."
I love the way our houseplant friend, Lilydale
leans into the light.
And I love the way you all, my dear friends and family,
lean into the light, too.
But, enough about the good in you. What about your dark side? I had heaps of fun with Picnik's Halloween features turning some of my favorite people into frightening creatures of the dark. I would hereby like to issue my formal apology to the following people/dog for turning your beautiful faces into ugly ones. So, to Chrissy, Tara, Manders, Yuki, Jason, and Mom & Dad, I'm sorry.
from a not-so-lovely ME: