Did I scare you? You want to know what’s been scaring me lately? Unprecedented weather. The ceiling of my room, which is the shape of a coffin. A death count over 9,000 and what the number will be when it’s all over. Recurring-Thoughts-of-Death Barbie. Angry, lonely men with guns. Being angry, but mostly, being lonely. The ubiquity of horrors. How inured we’ve all become to empathy. Now I’ve made you scared and depressed. Which is exactly where I wanted you because I’m about to lift your ghostly spirits by telling you why I love Halloween. And why you should too.
Maybe I didn’t need to take you down that little doom hole of horrors to tell you the world is a serious place because the older we get, the fewer opportunities there are to forget that. As we grow up and our hearts get broken and taxes have to be paid and funerals must be attended, I dare say we lose a sense of awe. “Adult-like wonder” is not a saying. But once a year, on October 31st, we’ve collectively decided we’re going to put on our ultimately unclever and not punny costume. We’re going to eat candy. We’ll watch movies that make us scream and stab images into gourds. Your participation is secular (arguably). It’s non-political (unless you make it). It’s ageless. And most of all, it’s necessary, especially as an adult. But you must give in to the macabre. You must be willing to embrace the moment, to be silly and potentially even embarrass yourself. But when you do, you’ll be better for it.
In a recent interview, artist Marina Abramovic reflected on the role of lightness in times of despair. “In war, when everybody was making art that reflected what happened, Henri Matisse was painting flowers,” she said. “I finally understand that. The way to fight is not to reflect horror and put your spirit down. It’s to create something with beauty that gives you hope.”
Am I equating the creative par of my costume with Matisse’s flowers? Yes. Although I shouldn’t (out of respect). My point is that on Sunday night, I rolled up my living room carpet so that my friends and I could sit on the floor and attempt to make art out of large, orange squashes. The task of cutting through the stupid pumpkin’s shell seemed insurmountable. I didn’t even really want to. The Sunday Scaries on October 29th were bone-chilling. But as I turned on “Monster Mash” and watched as everyone mumbled the words and turned their pumpkins pensively, childishly even, in their hands, I felt something. Hope. Happy Halloween.