facing our fearsSo, today’s Halloween.

You’re probably trying to figure out what you costume you’ll wear to a party tonight, and, by the way, have you stocked up on candy?

(I’ve been joking that instead of candy, this year I’ll be giving out toothbrushes. Hey, I’m all about what’s good for kids, even though I don’t have any.)

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about the spirit of fun that Halloween injects into our daily lives. I hadn’t actually experienced this festival until I moved to the US; we have so many festivals in India, replete with gods and demons (which my family enthusiastically participated in despite being a fervently Christian one), that Halloween – at least, at the time – was given short shrift.

Having now lived in the US for more than a decade, I still see that spirit of fun whenever Halloween comes around. Heaven knows we have more than our share of worries to deal with every other day of the year; why not be a kid for a day and throw caution to the winds?

More than that, though, I’ve come to see that, with all its ghouls and ghoulies, beasts and besties, Halloween gives us a chance to face our fears.

From its pagan origin of Samhain, to the Catholic Church influencing our modern-day festivities of the day, it’s really a day (and night … mostly night …) when you and I come face to face with our fears, isn’t it?

The fear that something might strike us down, sight unseen.

The fear that something much larger, much more powerful, than any of us will take control of our lives … and, possibly, our after-lives.

The fear that our deepest desires will come to the fore, regardless of whether or not they should.

By putting on costumes and makeup, aren’t we essentially trying valiantly to arm ourselves – with a more prepossessing outer self – to come to grips with our fears?

Despite the commercialism that permeates almost all our festivals these days, what I find particularly fascinating about Halloween is not simply its power to liberate the children in us.

It’s the gift the day gives us – this most pagan of days – to open the Pandora’s box that lives within each of us and face our fears.

Because it is only when we face our fears that we stand even half a chance of conquering them.

So, regardless of whether or not you’re going to a Hallowe’en party tonight, regardless of whether or not you’re trick or treating tonight (don’t come by my place, you’ll get a toothbrush, I already told you so), I wish you fearlessness.

Because it is only when we face our fears that we stand even half a chance of conquering them.

Image: guadiramone via Flickr, CC 2.0