Since I was a kid I have always loved Halloween and the scarier side of life. Not the kind of scares you get from the real world of every day but more the scares of the world behind our world, lurking in the shadows, just out of view. The draw towards the dark is within all of us but different for each of us. There is something primal and beautiful about it though and for me this season brings it out more than any other. And there is no finer way to step within the dark is with other people.
Watching horror movies, walking through graveyards, sitting around a campfire, and sharing the horror of a haunt.
While I won’t deny the power of sitting in the dark by yourself and watching a horror movie, or listening to a creepy story, or even just sitting in the dark listening for the whispers of the dead, there is something about the communal terror that makes it something special. There is something about sitting in a wagon at night as it goes through a horrific scenario and you and a group of people, even for a moment, buy into the idea that something is wrong, something is happening, and you are in the middle of it. There is something special about sitting in a darkened theater or a darkened room with other people sharing a shiver as all of you watch the horror unfold. Horror takes on more power as you share it. It’s a group fantasy that for even a moment the veil between the real and unreal has been pulled back and revealed to you a world you suspected existed but never really believed in, a world of strange terror. And through the laughter that follows the horror, the jokes that come along with it, and through the deep sigh that follows. There is magic in that feeling of your stomach dropping and then knowing that you survived, you faced the darkness and laughed at it, and sharing that bonds you to people and intensifies all of it. And all of this is what you’ll get in the opening statement of an introduction to horror class. It’s not new and it’s not unique but that doesn’t take the power of its truth away.
Why is Halloween so beloved? Close your eyes and think back to being a kid and going out at night with your friends or family. The air is cool, the leaves are crunching beneath your feet, and all around you is the scent of bonfires and the sounds of laughing children. But there’s power in the darkness and in that night where you think maybe, just maybe something is out there, waiting and watching and hungry for you. It isn’t that you truly believe it but part of you does for a moment and in that moment everything is possible, good and bad. Monsters are real but then so too is magic. In that moment where you allow yourself to let go and think What If it makes everything possible and it becomes all the more powerful if you can share that. Too often we try to control everything around us, every experience and every relationship. We never let go and give in to the moment. We are too busy capturing and sharing things remotely to give in to the small moments of magic that still exist. They’re there, in the tiniest of ways, in the briefest of moments, and it’s there that we can be most powerful, conquering our fears and daring the darkness and finding our way back through to the light.
Sometimes letting go is the only way to hold on.
And ya know what they say, there’s safety in numbers.
Best to let go together and see what happens and what sort of monsters are waiting for you.