It’s Halloween and I am scared.
As I am sitting at my desk on this special spooky Monday evening, I can hear the kids from downstairs screaming in excitement. They probably just completed their transformation into a bloody zombie, pale ghost or Spiderman and are ready to go out in the world and demand their treats from us ordinary mortals.
I am a bit jealous. When you are a kid, everything can so easily be an adventure, a step into the unknown, a discovery of the new – and you are just so excited to experience it. You don’t spend hours asking yourself whether this is the right thing to do, whether it’s going to be worth it, whether it’s going to be successful. You put on that black cape and put those pointy plastic teeth in your mouth and you go out. And even if you are a bit scared because you are actually too shy to ring a stranger’s doorbell, or angry because your brother got the cooler costume, you are going to have an amazing adventurous time and you’ll come home with a bag of delicious sweets. You don’t let your fear hold you back from getting your sweets, at least not till a certain age.
As children, we are experts of new beginnings. We constantly do things we never did before, and most of the time we do it without blinking an eye. But then, slowly but steadily, doubt creeps into us and inhabits our curious mind.
It’s funny, when I was a kid I always thought grown-ups were never scared. That I would eventually not be scared anymore. But sadly, I realised the opposite is true: the older I get, the more scared I become. Or, better: worried. Especially when doing something new. When have I ever started anything new without racking my brain about how it will go, whether I will do well in it, is it the right choice, what if… ?! So on this day, the day of ghosts and horror films, I am particularly scared, and I think it’s because it’s a day of new beginnings, making changes, start something new.
I know, this might not be super obvious. Usually, we connect spring times with new beginnings, with its flowers popping out and nature awakening from the death that was winter. But think about it: The life of the flower doesn’t start in the moment the blossom unfolds. It starts now, when the seeds are deep in the earth and in the dark. I always feel that the air of autumn is filled with newness, it might be because as a kid and student, this was really the time when the new year started and you got new classes, met new people, got new chances.
We are half way between the longest day (summer solstice in June) and the longest night (winter solstice in December), and while we enter the darkest times of the year, which many of find daunting and depressing, we actually enter a precious time: a time for reflection, for stillness and turning inward. Putting seeds in the ground so they can grow when it’s time. Which flowers do you want to see blossoming in spring? Which fruits do you want to harvest next year? These are the choices you can make right now.
Everything new starts with a seed – an intention, an idea, a choice.
Now is a time to put your seeds out. And that can be scary! If you really mean it, if you are honest with yourself, if you commit to this intention, you make yourself vulnerable. You cannot know what this will bring, if it will work out, if your effort will be rewarded – and this can be anything: making a choice about your career, your relationships, your physical or mental health. If you commit to a change, you’ll have to let go of the old – the old you and your old narratives, the old ways of how things worked (and were you could be certain they worked, they just didn’t make you happy…). This letting go can be painful and scary. Because old patterns and thoughts and habits are very stubborn and in the moment they feel threatened they will roar like a lion and rise up against you with all their might. You are confronted with your own ghosts. Ahh!
I am in the middle of a big new beginning right now, and I certainly see my ghosts all around me. I can almost not see anything else but ghosts. I have set intentions for changes, and now I am scared to take steps to manifest them. What if it doesn’t work out, what if I waste my time, what if I will never… – oh, worrying old mind!
I am thinking of children again and how they are experts in new beginnings and I promise myself just to take baby steps in two senses: doing small little tiny things everyday to nourish my seed, and taking on that childlike attitude of curiosity and excitement. Excitement is almost the same feeling as fear, just without making you feel small and threatened. It makes you feel your heart pounding.
So this is how I celebrate Halloween: confronting my ghosts as I am starting an adventure and screaming silently in excitement. I cannot know, but I trust I’ll harvest sweets in the future.