Just thinking about fear on Halloween, and how living in a fluctuating, chaotic world causes us each to create some kind of survival strategy based on how we deal with reality. In traditional cultures, people fear the ghosts of their ancestors which may return to do harm. By dressing up in fearsome costumes, we can cause the dead to retreat to their own realm and not mix into the affairs of the living.
Not long ago, my son and I listened to the audio book, The Good Earth. Because Wang Lung and Olan were close to the land as farmers, they depended on the “good will” of the weather to increase their fortunes. Their beliefs were primitive, and they sometimes reluctantly gave offerings to clay gods and goddesses in order to ensure health, good crops and harvests, and other circumstances linked to good fortune. What I found particularly interesting is that in this primitive mindset, as reflected in the story, too much good fortune should not be too openly celebrated or taken for granted. It is as if the person must punish him or herself or hold back the joy experienced from good forturen for fear that the gods will take revenge by taking something precious away.
The other day at my work-place, one of my co-workers recounted a personal turn of good fortune that caused her to fear a similar reprisal by destiny. For years, she was driving an aging and unreliable car. A friend happily agreed to sell her a much more recent model Honda in excellent condition for only $900, a car she had planned to trade in when purchasing a new model for herself. My co-worker then found out that the taxes at the department of motor vehicles for the new car would cost her a one time fee of $300. She did not have that much money in her bank account, so she turned to her uncle for help. Her uncle, who had lent her the money for the purchase of the new vehicle as well as the $300 for the taxes, was magically offered $1200 for the older car, which allowed my co-worker to reimburse him without any expense to herself. She was pleased with the result, but very frightened that something bad must happen to her because of her receiving such good fortune.
I must add that this co-worker suffers from somewhat severe OCD which causes her to fear diseases and generally to be mistrustful of love and happiness coming her way. Still, I find this human quality to be quite universal. At what point can or do people take on the responsibility for the unpredictability of life? Sometimes the lack of control that characterizes our condition as humans is hard to swallow, especially when finances are limited. What I mean is that when you feel you don’t have a social safety net, a padded bank account, a family network to help you in times of hardship, then it is somewhat logical to lean back onto magical thinking in order to cope with the stresses and challenges of daily life.
I, for one, personally believe that reality is made up of energy, and that most of what we agree to be real is simply a fabrication of mind. So what is the nature of fear? At the base, it is an emotion that helps us to survive in times of danger or what we perceive to be danger, provoking fight or flight reactions which, when appropriate, are necessary. When fear becomes a habit, it hinders our ability to live and create in the moment. When I feel fearful, I reach out to the energy of the universe and give thanks for all of the help and protection I receive each day. In return, I receive not only comfort, but the energy I would have devoted to being fearful is released and I can put it to use in other areas.
Getting acquainted with my own fears helps me to know myself better, and I can live with my own poetic or magical ways of experiencing reality. Happy Halloween!