Don’t be a Hallo-weenie!

October 25th, 2012

As a self-proclaimed werewolf, I can happily say that one of my favorite holidays is right around the corner – Halloween. While I’m not the vampire-fighting kind of werewolf that the girls go crazy for (Team Jacob, right?), I’m still pretty hairy, and I like to chase people through the woods. So naturally, I’m pretty pumped about All-Hallows’ Eve. I can finally be accepted for who I am.

With the spooky decorations adorning our houses and scary movies ghouling the theaters, the dropping Cleveland temperatures aren’t the only things sending chills down our spines. But for some reason, we seem to embrace the frights in “spirit” of the season.

So my message to everyone this year: Don’t be a Hallo-weenie.

I’ve never particularly cared for haunted houses or scary movies, but I think that’s because I embrace a different type of fear – a less-fabricated and more authentic type of fear.

A lot of people believe there’s a rush that accompanies a visit to a ghostly estate or a delightfully dreadful bone-chiller thriller flick.

Trust me, I’m all for a good adrenaline rush. But we’re afraid of all the wrong things.

When I was a kid, I was afraid of everything. I was a complete and total Hallo-weenie. My parents banned me from watching Scooby-Doo until I was 13 because I had a harrowing fear of reanimated mummies coming to attack me in my sleep; I forced my parents to booby-trap the house in case a rabid Bunny Foo-Foo came to ravage our home; and there wasn’t a spider in the world that didn’t send me sprinting in the opposite direction.

Okay, so I’m still pretty creeped out by spiders. (But I also hate anything with more legs than God’s creations should rightfully have; so, by extension, I hate the 26-guy, 52-legged Mount Union cross country team too.)

But one day, several years ago, I decided once and for all that I would not be afraid anymore. At first, that was an easy decision – I could easily rationalize any true phobias I had: Reanimated mummies? Bring it on, you Egyptian gauze-buckets. Bunny Foo-Foo? Ha! I laugh in your whiskered face. Spiders? Yeah, still afraid of you guys; take your centipede friends and get the heck out of here.

Naturally, though, I quickly found new things to be afraid of. Since I happened to make this decision right around the time I hit puberty, I swiftly replaced my fear of dead guys with the much more legitimate fear of all girls. Fortunately, I have almost overcome this one.

A few years later, when I began backpacking through the Rocky Mountains with my dad, I realized I had developed another rather legitimate fear – the fear of being eaten by a bear in my sleep or being mauled by a mountain lion while enjoying nature’s great outhouse (the woods).

My point is simple – there is nothing wrong with fear. It inspires us to protect ourselves from that which is truly dangerous in this world. And the adrenaline rush that it gives us is also pretty wicked.

Sorry, FDR, there is a lot more to fear than fear itself … like being eaten by a ravenous cougar while taking care of business in  the Wyoming woods. But as long as we keep our fears legitimate, they can be tremendously helpful.

For example, if you spend every night cowering in a tornado shelter, afraid that a twister will suck you  out of your bedroom and into oblivion, then you might not enjoy life. But, on the opposite end of the spectrum, if you recklessly challenge a category-five monsoon with nothing but your swim trunks and a snorkel, you also might not enjoy life.

If you want to balance fun, happy and safe in your life, just make sure your fears are valid. Let them be a force of constraint where necessary, but don’t let them bar you from that adrenaline rush you need to live an adventurous life.

Every day is a new adventure, and life itself is a giant hypothetical. After all, you can’t spell “life” without “if.” Step out on some new ledges. Embrace the legitimate fears of the world, and dispel the bunny-phobias that trap you in a cage of irrational and juvenile terror.

The Halloween season is a fantastic time to start taking these risks. Would Binx the Cat ever have gotten to rest in peace if Max hadn’t lit the black candle in “Hocus Pocus”? Sure, he brought back three wicked Wiccans to terrorize his quiet town and sacrifice his sister, but he took a risk, and you should too. Keep the “if” in “life,” and don’t be a Hallo-weenie.

Happy haunting, friends.