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Halloween was my favorite holiday for many years.
Not sure when my love of Halloween started. It may have been the first year that I dressed up as a woman.
I went out to a few parties, in drag, with my girlfriend at the time. I was terrified when we left the house. But I got more attention from women on that night than I had in my entire life previous.
WTF?
My whole life I had been trained that allowing any femininity to penetrate my macho-ness would be disastrous to my attractiveness and social standing.
But the opposite happened. Maybe it was because my drag choice was seen as a move of confidence. Maybe it was a way that women could dabble in bisexuality without getting their fists wet. All I know is that the results were so dramatic that I dressed up drag the next 4 years when it came time for Halloween.
I briefly dabbled in dressing in drag non-Halloween events, but discovered there is a huge chasm in people’s minds between “feminine-embracing Halloween costume” & “Sexually deviant cross-dressing.” What a difference a few days makes.
So when I see women interpret Halloween as “Let Out Your Inner Slut” Day, I totally get it. It is quite a gift to be able to experiment with an identity without social consequences. You get all the flirtatious attention with none of the reputation tarnish.
I’m always fascinated by the choices people make for their costumes. I’m not talking about ideas that are motivated by ease of assembly, current events, or attempts at humor. I’m referring to the fantasy roles that people embrace for that one special night.
We are given permission to color outside the lines of our socialized identity for one night. We can let our freak flag fly – and have the safety net of Halloween.
It’s the one night when cleavage is acceptable from Mrs. Cleaver.
Role play comes out of the closet. I even heard someone on Twitter refer to it as “Hetrosexual Pride Day.”
While I was experimenting with dressing in drag, I was able to avoid ridicule and physical harm. There *was* one drunk Navy guy who, after mistaking me for an actual woman, toyed with the idea of pummeling me. He wanted to confirm his non-faggot-ness in front of his friends. But in the context of a costume party, it was a non issue. Again, the Halloween safety net protected us both from judgment.
With the ability to be whatever you want, I’m always puzzled by the desire to be grotesque.
Being a sexy nurse/maid/cat makes sense. Being a Jedi/fireman/childhood hero makes sense.
But being an eyeball-dripping, flesh-hanging, blood spewing atrocity?
Perhaps it is my vanity speaking, but I can’t imagine EVER wanting people to be disgusted by me when I approach. Especially when I am given a free pass to dress up as anything!
This touches on something much larger.
I’m baffled by the Horror genre, in general. In a world filled with atrocities, my instinct is to go AWAY from horror whenever I am given a choice.
Towards beauty. Towards smiles. Towards Joy.
So If I am choosing between a sexy unicorn costume or a zombie, that’s a no brainer. (Or I should say, “no BRAIIIIIIIIIIINS-er.”)
To be fair, I recognize that the original Samhain intention was NOT an excuse to wear French Maid outfits. And for people who embrace the macabre work of warding off evil spirits, I salute your traditionalism. Thanks for all your efforts. (You don’t see much “warding” these days.)
But for me, Halloween was always about letting out hidden parts of myself. And that is why it no longer holds the same importance that it once did. There was a time when excuses to boldly express myself were precious and rare. But I rarely feel inhibited any longer.
There is no pressure cooker of expression building up during the year to explode in the form of a Chippendales costume or shirtless cave man.
When I think about “whose shoes would I want to walk in for a night?” The answer isn’t a cop, a woman, or even a slutty cat. The answer is, “Mine.”
My daily persona and my fantasy persona have, for the most part, merged.
It’s why I stop people at Burning Man or elsewhere whenever they say to me, “Nice costume!” Even though it may seem like a minor point, I feel the need to correct them.
“Actually, this is an ‘outfit,’ not a ‘costume.’ A costume implies that I am pretending to be someone I am not. But an outfit is simply an expression of who I am.”
And it is from that place that I have rekindled my love of Halloween. It is no longer a needed break from the oppression of the status quo. Now it’s just a good excuse to role-play in public, encourage those who are ill-at-ease with raw expression, and marvel at the endless ways a non-erotic costume idea can be made sexy.
Now, has anyone seen my fake lashes!?

-John
Oct 30, 2010

pink demons

Happy Halloween!

Halloween 2010

“Joy Ride”

Humans have the amazing ability to experience the universe in a sensory way.

Many organisms have similar abilities, but we have additional gifts:

We can imagine. We can love. We can create.

Sounds almost like the description of a God:

Imagine. Love. Create.

That is a lot of responsibility to figure out in a lifetime that lasts under 100 years. And traditionally, we have yielded our power recklessly. We have lost track of the force that guides us and informs our power.

We overlook the lessons, but the world around us demonstrates this power with perfect balance and flow. Sun evaporates water. Rain falls to water plants. Plants photosynthesize. Animals eat plants. Millions of interconnected systems make up the surface of the earth, fill the seas, and make up our bodies.

Billions of years of evolutionary growth has created this system of balance.

Things out of balance die off. Things in harmony flourish.

This system – the universe – is not guided by the frontal lobe of some white bearded deity.

It is guided by something inconceivably beautiful and awe-inspiring. This pull towards harmony is the underlying Flow of the cosmos.

This harmony is massive beyond comprehension and tiny beyond perception.

Whether we look outwards to the stars or explore the microscopic worlds within, the universe is a self-correcting, interconnected, harmonic fractal.

Somewhere in the middle of this micro-macro scale is humankind. Among all the matter in the Universe, we have the unique ability to perceive.

We a part of the universe, but we are also a witness to it.

Carl Sagan said that, “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”

We are given this divine gift of awareness, but in our excitement, we forgot the basic underlying harmony. We lost the awareness that we are a part of the Flow. We are very much like a toddler who has learned that he can affect his environment. This happens long before a child develops a sense of empathy. He is empowered by his ability to cause effect, but has no sense of the consequences in the larger scenario.

We, as infant gods, take these gifts and try to exercise them with ignorance. Like a baby with a chemistry set.

It is this ignorance that makes us presume that we are in charge.

We take a seat as the leader, then force our will upon the land. We dam rivers, pave fields, and level mountains. We pollute the air, sea, and land.

A more mature child would know that the chemistry set must be respected. It must be cleaned after every use. It must be handled with care. All the pieces must be put back into their original place if we are to keep track of things, avoid unintentional explosions, and make our toy last.

Alas, a toddler has little sense of longevity. And anything fragile within arm’s reach of the toddler will soon be destroyed.

The toddler may have momentary experiences of pleasure & delight. As he smashes a beaker against a wall, he may have an instant of contentment and a surge of feeling powerful.

But this will soon fade. This lifestyle is out of balance. All humans have this dilemma. This is the source of so much unhappiness and discontent.

We are trained to seek the goals of man: wealth, longevity, power, & security.

But these all lack balance. The only way to find true joy is to rediscover the goals of the universe: Balance, Harmony, Flow, and Love.

This can be a hard realization to come to terms with because it requires one to see the universe without Humankind at the top. It requires us to see our lives as equally important and sacred as every other life on the planet and every other thing in the universe.

We will never have a vantage point to judge what is good or bad. We simply have the ability to perceive if something is in our out of alignment.

Unfortunately, after a lifetime of socialization, mass marketing, and hypnosis, our innate sense of harmony can be buried.

As we practice removing the layers of socialized beliefs, alignment becomes easier to sense.

This doesn’t mean that we need to live naked in a cave and eat only fruits and berries that have dropped from trees – but you may be compelled to live that way, someday.

It simply means that our path becomes one of ever-correcting towards harmony. This is done – not from a place of steering – but from finding the current and floating.

Once we are in the current, paddling *with* it feels almost effortless.

As we remove the layers of external values, the universal flow becomes easier to perceive.

One day you may wake up and feel differently about plastic bags.

One day you’ll notice that a shiny new Lexus looks less beautiful than it once did.

One day you may feel a deeper connection to that person living on the street.

One day you find that giving joy to others is more thrilling than getting stuff for yourself.

Most of us are scared of this shift. And rightfully so.

We are afraid that if we stop chasing the carrot, we will be lost.

But all that we will lose is the carrot itself. And in losing it, we free ourselves from its invisible cage.

For anyone raised in captivity, this can be terrifying. Anais Nin describes this transition perfectly, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

As we slowly undo our socialization, we rediscover our divinity. We remember our unique gifts of Imagination, Love, and Creation.

When we express these gifts from a place of alignment, all our energies are bolstered by the divine flow of the Universe. As we become aware of the flow of the current, we stop swimming against it.

We become leafs in the cosmic stream – Joyfully enjoying the ride.

As the false layers are stripped away, this experience of Joy becomes stronger and stronger. We are less distracted by the carrot and can tune into the deeper sense of Joy within – Like a sense of hearing that gets strengthened when one is blindfolded.

This sense of Joy becomes a guiding force, not unlike pain or pleasure. We learn to avoid fire by the sensation of pain. We learn to seek alignment by the sensation of Joy.

And Joy IS a sensation.

In the same way that humans perceive certain vibrations as a high C and certain light waves as “blue.”

We perceive that divine alignment as Joy.

The trick is to filter out the polluted frontal lobe motivations and tune in to the timeless flow. It takes faith. It takes confronting fears. It takes balance. It takes practice.

But when we use our gifts in service to the Flow, the reward is a life of bliss.

The teasing carrot becomes laughable when we discover the cornucopia of delights that are already within arm’s reach. Joy is as available as beam of sunlight or a gulp of air.

This Joy is your birthright…and it is waiting for you within.

-John

Oct 25, 2010