‘Tis All Hallow’s
Try and scare me
if you will
A boo will do it
Grumpy this morning
Tired, woeful, distressed, sad
Can only improve
(Confession: Truth be told I am not really sad, but needed the extra syllable for my haiku)
Do you ever have days like this–the good thing is, it can only get better.
Wafting autumn fades gently ~
Late fall enchantment.
By now, you know the ritual–this is my weekly newspaper column:
One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place. ~ Emily Dickinson
There is a rhythm to life. Expectations that must be met. If you are a columnist and it is the last week in golden October then you just naturally turn to the subject of Halloween. And you remember your love/hate relationship with the celebration of the dark night of the soul, or as I prefer to think of it—the night of endless chocolate, chewy caramels, and remembrances of homemade popcorn balls and chocolate chip cookies packaged prettily in cellophane.
Again, against my better judgement, I bought one of those boxes of chocolate bars that I am particularly fond of—a combo of Reese’s peanut butter cups, mini O’Henry chocolate bars, and Hershey’s milk chocolate bars with peanuts. I have now pretty well emptied the box, having shared only a few of the treats with my husband (lest you think I am mean, he is diabetic after all-don’t want to kill the guy!) so I have had to purchase more candy. I was careful this time to buy candy that does not speak to my sweet tooth but will still pass muster with the few kids destined to show up at my house on Thursday night.
The number of trick or treaters have dwindled over the years—as my sons grew older, so did their friends, and no one seems to be replacing that crew at my door—something that is both a relief and disappointment. I remember fondly the days of excitement leading up to the grand day of chocolate and all things sweet—the costumes and smeary grease paint, the adventure of walking out the door knowing we would come home with a bounty of cavity causing booty, my sneaky swiping of my favourite chocolate bars from my sons’ cache bagged unceremoniously in pillow cases. Ah—the good old days!
Halloween has become big business. So much so that it seems to rival Christmas in our affections. I guess the ‘shadow’ side of life needs to be given its moment in the sun, and this weekend The National Post took the whole Halloween, death, and dying thing for a spin—making death the cornerstone of many of their articles, opinion pieces, and columns. I read a bit of it and was left feeling overexposed to the subject and a little bit creeped out. Do I really want to know that Marilyn Monroe’s last meal consisted of stuffed mushrooms, meatballs and Dom Perignon, or that Cleopatra noshed on figs before meeting her demise?
One section of the paper was devoted to “The Look of Death”, touting black as the new black; another section was called “13 Spectral Street” contemplating the scariest address in town; a third section shouted “How We Die Now” and elucidated on “the new ways we deal with death.” And, not to be left out, the financial section headline was “Death and Money.” Usually the National Post is my favourite weekend paper, but not so this weekend. I lightly perused its pages, alighting carefully on articles that were not too gruesome, but in truth, skipped most of its content. Even Rex Murphy, who I find eloquently toothsome in his descriptions, was a disappointment with his wish at the end of his column that everyone have a “happy, grey, grim Halloween”. Death, a topic possibly ripe for Halloween was overdone in this edition. The paper is now in the recycle pile—none of it saved for further study or rereading.
I am a fan of the Halloween that produces fairies and Cinderellas, dinosaurs and robots. Not for me the monsters, or skeletons, and if the ghost is Casper, then I am okay with that. The macabre does not fascinate me; death does not beguile me; tombstones are not the delight of my décor. Inexplicably I do have a soft spot in my heart for witches and wizards, probably as a result of being brought up on the television program “Bewitched” with enchanting Samantha and her charming nose twitch (something I practiced a lot as a kid to no avail.)
So, in opposition to Rex’s desire that you have a grim Halloween, I wish you as many trick or treaters at your door as you desire, chocolate dreams, and caramel apple wishes.
Gust of wind blows leaves
Helter, skelter, hither, yon
Neat piles scattered…………
ticks away time ~
Cascades of grey clouds
Formed mountains in the dawn sky
My weekly newspaper column:
The clock on the wall says it is past mid-October, but we are really only about four weeks into the fall season. October feels like fall to me — and even though the season really extends to December—this is the month that contains the golden days of fall. It seems so fleeting, giving way to the grey days of November and snow days of December. I want to hold it, grasp it and not let it go—but that is not how it works. Time marches on.
Thanksgiving is behind us; Halloween looms—we are caught mid-stage. I find myself wanting to enjoy every minute of October, yet already grieving its passing. Those who
advocate living in the present are probably happiest now. A quote I have taken to heart lately is attributed to that calmest of souls, Buddha: “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
Am I the only one who finds it hard to live in the present? To be aware of only what is happening now—to be so immersed in it that the past no longer matters, and the future is an illusion? I think not, as there have been about a million (and this only a slight exaggeration) books and essays and talks written on the subject. So why is it so hard to live in the present?
Before I answer that, I want to preface it with my belief that the past is important as it is what informs us; and the future is essential because that is where we are going. But I need to enjoy the here and now so I Googled the question: “Why is it so hard to live in the present?” and came across the site ohsheglows.com by Angela. Angela prescribes the vegan life on her blog, but she also deals with her struggle with anxiety which she attributes to worrying about the future.
She found ten steps on her favourite blog, Zen Habits, which help her live in the present. The first one seems simple and it is, but so many of us (me included) do not take the time to do it deeply. It is breathe. Angela says that breathing fully and deeply does not come naturally to her, but in moments of anxiety when she remembers to take at least three deep breaths it helps calm her. Calm is good—if you are going to enjoy the present, doing it calmly (serenely, peacefully, tranquilly) sounds like a lovely way to exist.
Becoming a minimalist was also one of the ways she approached living in the present, but it is not a preferred method for me. I agree that unneeded possessions clutter our life, but material things can be a comfort, so I will eschew this suggestion for the time being.
Smile. I try to do this a lot. It makes me feel good when I am smiled at—so I try to do the same—and the very act of smiling makes you feel better. It is weird but it works.
Forgive the past. We have all been through crappy stuff—I have come to the realization that we all have challenges. Angela says that sometimes she catches herself thinking about something as if it is happening to her now because memories are so vivid and real, but by forgiving them, you can move past it and live in the present. This has got tobe the hardest of all ten in my opinion, but if achieved one of the best.
The other five that she found in her research to combat living in the past, or having anxiety about the future are: dream big, but work hard TODAY; do one thing at a time; do less by adding space between your tasks; use cleaning as meditation; and spread the love—do something nice for someone else. Cleaning as meditation gives me pause. But she says that “cleaning can be a form of mindfulness…and rituals are often calming.” So the next time I dust or vacuum or do the dishes I will think of them as rituals and not madly rush through them. (Yeah, right!)
My favourite go-to for quotes is the ever eloquent Unknown who has just the perfect piece of wisdom to end this column: “If you worry about what might be, and wonder might have been, you will ignore what IS.” So these last few days of my favourite month, I will enjoy what is.
Hidden secrets lie
In gentle change of seasons