(From a series of excerpts inspired by daily trips on the bus in Vancouver, B.C.)
I had almost forgotten, on a tired night home from a 12 hour day, that it was Halloween. Halloween, that peculiar appropriated festival that I have always avoided. It seems so like us 1st-world westerners to totally misunderstand a deep culturally and spiritually significant festival. We take the most superficial layer, that of dressing up, and leave the rest. The important stuff, like honouring our ancestors, perhaps pondering their existence on the other side or asking for guidance, gets overlooked.
That being said, dressing up, can in and of itself be a very freeing and revealing activity.
On the bus, when a few costumed stragglers rolled in, I allowed myself to forget to remember that it was Halloween. Instead, it was a normal day, and some people had decided to dress up, just because. I imagined that the costumes revealed something about their character. They had chosen these costumes, consciously or unconsciously, because something in their subconscious was drawn to them. The ghosts, the mariachi band members, the waitresses, the bumblebees, all became revealing characters of these strangers' personalities.
And what is a costume but really a part of ourself that we are wiling to reveal?
Are not our masks and guises also costumes?
In putting on a costume we are giving voice to something otherwise unseen. Whether or not we identify with it, it reveals what we are choosing other people to see. Usually, this process goes unseen. But on Halloween, for some reason, we give ourselves permission to let it out.
I drifted off then, into a kind of hazy, overtired and overworked daze. The edges of my vision began to blur. Soon it was indistinguishable who was wearing a costume and who wasn't. I felt like it was obvious we were all wearing costumes.
The bumblebees and the businessmen, the janitor and the jailer, the mariachi band and me.