Franklin’s Sign Mantra
“Life favors those who move in the direction of greatest courage.” – Franklin Veaux
I’ve never met Franklin, though we have mutual friends in polyamory circles and I’ve admired his clear and concise writing for years (even the stuff I disagree with). The phrase above is one of many gems from his poster on “Relationship Principles I wish I had learned in Kindergarten.” The whole list is worth a look, especially since I think he did a great job of not being all polyamory-evangelistic. These are relationship principles of all kinds, from the casual encounter to the lifelong partner.
Why did I pick the one about courage? Well, because this post is on Halloween, of course! If there’s ever a time when our culture chooses to love fear, it is this time. Have you ever stopped to think about just how weird this holiday is? People hang effigies of monsters, dead bodies, dismembered limbs, ghostly apparitions – and then cheer and ooh and ahhh about them, throw parties, eagerly put on masks and travel from place to place extorting treats from complete strangers.
In a weird kind of way, we are putting up these symbols of the things that scare us as a kind of tribute to them. We are celebrating the things that make our hearts pound, that stimulate the amygdala and flood our nervous system with norepinephrine and dopamine and a whole host of other things. It’s not the stories that scare us; it’s the stories that comfort us, because we make them up after we are scared. And whether your Halloween is the whole family dressing up as the characters from Star Wars or just snuggling up with the latest book by China Mieville, it is a ritual of embracing that which we fear.
The Hallowed Heart
Or perhaps you’re like my partner Natasha, who says she is “more pagan than boo!” about Halloween. “All Hallows Eve” is a more ritualistic version, closer to the Dias des las Muertes of the Latin culture:
“In the carnival celebrations of All Hallows’ Eve our ancestors used the most powerful weapon in the human arsenal, the power of humor and ridicule to confront the power of death. The following day, in the commemoration of All Saints, we gave witness to the victory of incarnate goodness embodied in remarkable deeds and doers triumphing over the misanthropy of darkness and devils. And in the commemoration of All Souls we proclaimed the hope of common mortality expressed in our aspirations and expectations of a shared eternity.”
– Sam Portaro, A Companion to the Lesser Feasts and Fasts.
“The power of humor and ridicule.” In the realm of love, one of the biggest reasons people will fail to take a chance is out of the fear of looking foolish, the fear that they will take a chance on being vulnerable and then look ridiculous when it fails.
Maybe we could keep a little Halloween in our hearts for the rest of the year, and embrace that fear. Look forward to it. Recognize that when we are confronted with an opportunity to love it is both a chance of failure but also an opportunity to move in the direction of courage. A chance to let both love and life favor us with everything from the momentary brightness of a shared smile with a stranger to the rich security of a partner’s wrinkled hand taking yours at the twilight of your life.
I know, it’s scary. But this is the one day when we’re reminded that fear can be good not only as a warning but also as an opportunity. Only you can decide if you’re going to take the leap, and if you fall, pick yourself up.
If you’re not listening to the Love Life Practice Podcast, you’re missing out on something special November 1. Jay Easton, a world-renowned wind player will be guest-accompanying the Weekend Roundup and giving commentary on the posts! If you only listen to one episode, this would be it.