Monday, October 23, 2017

Ghosts And Goblins Redux

What scares you? What wakes you up in the middle of the night with cold sweats and panting breathes? What haunts your dreams and disturbs your days with unchecked dread? Most of us have these things that go bump in the night, though we may have difficulty discussing them. It is often easier to pretend to have no fear than to face the fear we do have. The fear is still there, though, and it will often reach out and bite you at the most inopportune times if you follow this course of action. Better to face it head on and deal with it than to let it sneak up on you unaware.

The ghosts of the past can be one of the most difficult fears to face. They’re past. They’re gone. They are not present to argue with and wrangle into submission. These things that one might think should make them easier to dismiss turn out to make them more difficult to address. A ghost cannot reach out and physically harm you, but you can’t reach out and physically shove a ghost out of the way either. When that ghost stands in the middle of the room and howls at you and rattles its chains, you can’t use conventional methods to make it go away.

We all have a tendency to drag these ghosts around with us. Memories of lost love or past injuries. Regrets over words unsaid or deeds undone. Guilt over words said or deeds done. The past informs the present, and we often relive our worst moments over and over again. The very times in our lives that we maybe should not have lived that way the first time are the ones we often repeat incessantly in our dreams and thoughts.

Spending so much time living with ghosts, though, can’t fix the past. It can only damage the present and potentially cancel the future. We cause pain to today by ignoring it in favor of yesterday, and then today becomes another yesterday full of regret, and the horrible cycle continues. Break the cycle, and make today the best day you have ever lived. If you look back on today from some future tomorrow, make it a day you look back on with joy instead of pain. Even better, make those tomorrows days that you won’t want to look back from in the first place.

Ghosts have no power except what we give to them. Don’t give them power and you don’t have ghosts. That may sound simple, but it can be one of the hardest things you ever do. If you believe that not thinking about something is easy, I challenge you to not think about a white elephant right now. You thought about it, didn’t you? A magnificent white elephant went trumpeting through your thoughts just now … and it just did it again. That is how thought works. Trying not to think about something is one of the best ways to trigger that very thought. Instead, acknowledge the thought, give it a nod, and then think about something else. Don’t ignore it. Don’t pretend it isn’t there. Just don’t give it any importance. “Oh yeah, you again. Okay. Next.” Eventually this becomes habit, and the importance is naturally gone. This is how we exorcise ghosts.

Goblins can be tricky because they are right here, right now. They have a current physical presence, and they make sure you know about it as often as possible. They are bill collectors presenting Past Due notices; bosses scheduling annual evaluations; children with twenty nine hours of activities to somehow fit into 24-hour days. Goblins are the term paper you spaced until now it’s due tomorrow. Goblins are the everyday horrors that plague our lives with discomfort and unhappiness. Sometimes they’re friends with the ghosts and act in tandem, but more often they are just agents of chaos acting in any way and using any tool to wreck the present and take away good possibilities for the future.

Goblins may have a physical presence, but you still usually can’t just dropkick the little buggers over the horizon. For one thing, goblins are often our own fault (Who didn’t do that term paper when you had time?), and you can’t really solve your problems by punishing yourself. When the goblins are someone else, there are usually legal or social ramifications that would prevent a more direct physical response. Also, a more direct physical response is often just rude, and tends to create even more goblins. Don’t do that. Don’t make more problems when trying to solve the existing ones.

That is one of the more difficult things about goblins: They have an amazing capacity for reproduction. If you’re not careful in how you handle them, your Goblin Removal Procedures can easily becomes Goblin Multiplier Procedures instead, and you’ve just made the situation worse when you were trying to make it better. Even if you don’t add to the army of goblins, it is still far too easy to replace one goblin with another one. That make not make things worse, but it doesn’t make them better either.

The best way to deal with a goblin infestation is honest mindful awareness. Know where you are, know what you’re doing, and know your results. Not where you want to be or where you think you are, not what you want to be doing or what you think you’re doing, and not what you want the results to be what what you think the results might be, but the real ones. Be present. Be aware. Be real. If your actions are attracting goblins, address your actions. If it’s not your actions but the actions of other people in your location, perhaps it’s time to reconsider your location. If you have no choice about your location - rare, but possible - take precautions and make sure that you are not adding to the goblin summoning.

We all have fears, but most of our fears are ghosts and goblins. They’re not real, or they’re only as real as we make them. When you are giving energy to the things around you, make certain that you are not powering ghosts and goblins. If you are not currently equipped to make the world a better place, at least don’t make it worse.

There are fears in this world that are not ghosts and goblins. They are less common, but no less real. A house fire, a violent storm, a random act of hatred, an ill child. These and other such events can be terrifying in their very real ability to take away from live that which makes it life. We face these things as best we can, but remember that we all face them, and we are all afraid sometimes. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is moving forward despite fear. No courage is required when you are not afraid, only when you are. Don’t doubt yourself because you’re afraid. Acknowledge your fear and move forward anyway. Then you will have no reason to doubt.

We're running Halloween posts from the past this week, in case you missed them or just might want to read them again. Meanwhile, we are preparing for Halloween at Casa Frequently Interrupted. Hope you have a great week, and a great holiday.

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