This week’s GvL is brought to you by the medium of deadline panic. Which seems appropriate, given we’ve hit peak spooky season. Leaves are tumbling, pumpkins are proliferating and our screens and timelines are full of orange and black and seasonal cheer.
Fear is an odd thing, uniquely tuned to an individual’s own sense of self. Our lives, our experiences all boiled down in a cauldron to create a personal recipe for inducing our own fight or flight responses. Mine kick in with deadlines. Normally in a positive way – a frisson under the skin reminding me to type, type, type – but occasionally hitting full on flight mode where the banshees take over and I can’t think for adrenaline.
Fear can be useful. It can even be pleasurable. We seek chills and thrills on these dark nights, congregate to watch scary movies together. We can indulge our inner vampire or witch fantasies (I’m not so sure about zombies!), and celebrate the macabre with a collective two-finger salute to death.
Halloween itself goes much deeper than the cotton candy fluff fest it has become today. Halloween – or the Celtic Samhain – was traditionally the crossing point of the year, when we move from the light of the summer to the dark of winter where nothing germinates and life is nullified. Samhain itself offered a crossing point for the dead to walk amongst us, before crossing over to their perpetual sleep.
It represented a time not just to mourn our lost loved ones, but a time to celebrate their lives with food and memories, and the bright burning of fires. And to say goodbye.
Our modern day version is a little Disneyesque in execution. This isn’t to criticise it – as a child I’d happily parade around the village with a scruffy little turnip lantern (I’m pre-pumpkin!) with my best Worst Witch face on. I much prefer the flutter of black ribbons and the gaudy charm of sugar skulls to the sickly confectionery of Christmas. Halloween is more honest. It admits there are fears in the world to be scared of, and embraces them with a dusting of sugar to keep the bitterness sweet.
Fear itself can propel us. Not just to use it as a sly excuse to snuggle up to the object of our affections in the dark of the cinema. It can highlight areas of our lives that might benefit from an overhaul. But it can also subsume us.
These are the fears that don’t make it onto the big screen to hit our scary pleasure buttons. The ones that seem mundane, commonplace. Fear of where your next rent payment is coming from, of homelessness. Fear of losing your job or of becoming ill. Of losing the people you love the most.
If you are struggling with fear today then perhaps consider seeking some support. There are a number of links at the bottom that can hopefully point you in the right direction. Or drop a comment below the line if you’d like a more informal natter. We aren’t healthcare professionals, but we are humans. If fear isn’t addressed it can fester inside like a canker and blight your life. And it can leave you feeling terribly alone.
This Halloween I will be celebrating my wedding anniversary. I’ll also be raising a glass to those that I have loved and I have lost. And to all of you who’ve visited this page over the past year, my friends.