Halloween is just around the corner, a time of costumes. A time quite loved for that very fact, the one day everyone is allowed* to put on a costume and play.
Though… it’s not the only time of costumes. In truth, don’t we kinda wear costumes every day?
In many ways, I’d assert, we do.
Natch, they are quite the different kind of costume than that of a ghoul, an anime character, your fishtank, or of a sexy [insert profession/noun here]**. But they are costumes nonetheless. They are the costumes we wear to reinforce the role we want or feel the need to play, and they are the costumes we wear to project a (specific) message to the world.
They are our broadcasting system. Clothing choices, hairstyles, technology, brands, patterns of speech, mannerisms, the accessories we sport, and the vehicles we drive… all crafted and brought together to be our costume we put on (often every day) and go out into the world as “it”.
It’s a great mode of communication. And when the costume comes from a place of authenticity, it can be a glorious self-expression.
When the costume comes from a hope of hiding, of identity, of shouting something we want to feel or be, when a costume is born of external concerns and of uncertainty and self-doubt, it can lead us places we don’t really want to go. A costume can be the personal version of James Howard Kunstler’s description of the banal suburban home: a television broadcasting 24 hours a day the message “I’m normal, I’m normal, I’m normal.” A salve, but one that ultimately leaves no freedom or peace of mind.
As with many things in life, we often pick our costumes by accident. We put them on without knowing it, we inherit them because it’s what we were surrounded by, we get into habits. And often we get quite muddled in trying to figure out if we truly like something, if it is truly authentic… or if it is just our identities telling us we like it as a way of protecting itself.
It could be fun to add another layer to Halloween and use it as a chance to be mindful and examine all the costume choices we’ve made (and we make). Sit back and take stock to see which of them truly serve us, and those we are instead caught in serving for.*** We can even fold in and take a lesson from children, who are wonderfully facile at putting on a costume and playing it to the hilt for twenty two and a half minutes, and, on a dime, change their outfits and get deep into playing something else.
Be clear, create and play on, reveling in the game of knowing we get to be in a costume of our choosing every day.
* That “play” and “costumes” are societally considered (still/by some/most) childish and weird and taboo and incompatible with being an adult is in of itself an interesting avenue to investigate the underpinnings of. Equally interesting is the split in the mind of the avenues of play, such as sports and the surging acceptance of computer games, that are socially OK and are not thought of or siloed into the same category of what may be called play or playtime… ****
** The whole ‘sexy noun’ phenomenon is also a whole other post onto itself…
*** And for that latter group, seeing what’s there and getting onto the work of completing and transforming to create the liberation and possibilities we want.
**** Here’s a TED Radio Hour episode on play.