I have friends who worry about Halloween, and I take their concerns seriously. If one has a strong sense that there is evil in the world, one usually wants to stay as far away from it–and to keep one’s children as far away from it–as one can.
But the Halloween I see when I look at the kids I have and have had around me is not a frightening thing. In those kids–and, truthfully, in myself–I see a wish to be something different, a wish to try out a new persona, a wish to be a different person from the one they saw in the mirror that morning. It might be a silly wish, it might be a serious wish, but it’s a wish all the same.
While we often tell our children that they can be anything they want, an awful lot of children spend their days just getting through–in the very same way they will when they’re adults. The operative words being “just getting through.” The world is a very big place. A very big, scary place. And mostly it’s easier not to roam too far from what is safe and familiar. They stick close to their family, the television, their favorite computer games or toys, their closest friends, the music they like.
But when Halloween comes, they know it’s safe to be expansive, to put on a different face. To be bold where they’re usually timid, to be mysteriously shy if they’re often extroverted. To be the superhero they don’t get to be when the sun is up. What a rush it must be to be a superhero even for a few hours–all that respect, all those expectations, all that power, all that potential.
If you’ve ever done anything well, you probably first had to be not very good at it for a while. You felt a little ridiculous in the costume, as though people could see it didn’t quite fit you. Perhaps you even failed. But it was your imagination that made you believe that you could be different. That you could be successful. We first have to put on the garb of what we want to be–then we have to grow into it.
But first we have to imagine.
What if any day could be Halloween?