Halloween has never really been my holiday. In fact, I haven’t dressed up since the early nineties, and that was only because the masquerade party was my idea. Most years, the lights on my porch are dark, but it’s not that I’m candy- or kid-averse. I crave Snickers bars and half-pint superheros just as much as you do, but I’ve been too busy all these years with the haute couture of self-expression that donning drugstore wigs & sticky grease paint just for fun seemed superfluous and crude.
However, if I were to step into costume, it is Bob Marley that I would become. It is the king of Rasta and reggae who said it best: “You think you’re living in heaven, but you’re living in hell.” He was tireless in spreading his message of freedom and release from oppression, though we are unaware of the masks that bind us, still. The 8 of Pentacles, signifying tarot card of imprisonment and its illusion, turned up in my readings for far too long. Maybe it’s just some psychic sleight of hand, but my deck has been reshuffled. Now, I am the Fool embarking anew.
This year of magical thinking has found me discovering racks of costumes taking up mindspace in my identity closet. I could stock an off-Broadway theater company with well-worn masks from past roles: performing the ‘good little worker,’ or the ‘peacekeeper,’ or ‘Atlas.’ Don’t get me wrong, I have loved my jobs and the people in my life, and when I didn’t anymore, I moved on. But it’s more that during my pursuit of happiness, it seemed good enough to find joy where I was than to uncover my highest expression of it. So I ‘worked hard,’ and ‘strived for excellence’ and tried to fit myself into someone else’s vision. All that working and striving however just gave me a crick in my neck, and the mask sometimes can slip. It’s not so easy to get where you want to go when you’re out of alignment; sometimes I’ve swerved into oncoming traffic. A unit of intensive care can be a godsend sometimes.
So instead of dressing up now, I’m disrobing. I am enterprising in my mask removal methods: I melt them with vigorous exercise, pick at them until they scab and slough away, rip them off like band-aids. But always, underneath, I find yet another layer of trying to please someone, albeit less so each time. I want to reach beneath the epidermis down to where living tissue lies, the true skin, with nerve endings that hear whispers long muffled. I want to reveal skin strong enough to withstand all the swirling demons and vampires, and sensitive enough to see through their camouflage.
I declare we celebrate ourselves this year – a Contrarian’s Halloween – so, dress down, take off the veil, remove the invisible cloak. I can see through it anyway…