If Only God Would Give Me a Sign!  What are YOU Going to Be for Halloween?

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by Linda M. Potter

I recently found myself in one of those mega Halloween superstores that magically appear a couple of months before the annual holiday and then vanish overnight come Nov. 1st. I’m not really a big Halloween fan – a couple of pumpkins on the porch and a pair of garage-sale gargoyle statues guarding the front door is about the extent of my All Hallows Eve revelry, so visiting a Halloween store was a bit out of character. However, I’d been somehow drawn in by the neon orange banner strung across the top of the building and the eight foot high shrunken head display in the front window. Once inside, memories of the haunted houses of my childhood and the buckets of trick-or-treat candy I could devour without gaining an ounce, came flooding back.

I moved quickly past the aisles of plastic grave stones, supersized fuzzy black spiders and gallon jugs of fake blood to the seemingly endless racks of costumes for people (and pets) of all ages, shapes and sizes. There were costumes that represented every imaginable fantasy, dream, nightmare or quirky idea – the good, the bad, the ugly and the inanimate – and they were all taunting me with one tantalizing question, “What would you like to be for Halloween?” The possibilities were seemingly infinite. And it was exhilarating!

During the 1950s, when I was in grammar school (and in my trick-or-treat “prime”) the department store options for who or what I could choose to be for one magical night were pretty limited. The few available disguises were pretty gender specific, which narrowed the field even more. Girls could choose from a variety of characters that wore skirts, i.e. good witch, angel, princess, gypsy or ballerina. Boys got to pick from things that gave you nightmares, i.e. Frankenstein, Wolfman, The Mummy, Dracula, skeleton or devil. The only really unisex costume was a ghost. It was also the only costume that was a one-size fits all and it served our family well for years. On the years I wasn’t the designated ghost, I would choose either “gypsy” or “witch.” My best friend would always go as an angel, which seemed like a wasted opportunity since we both got to wear that costume every year in the church Christmas pageant. On Halloween, I wanted something more adventurous, so I alternated between trying out a crystal ball and a few magic potions, and seeing what I could manifest with a wand while test-driving a broom.

Even as a child, the idea of dressing up as something I wasn’t, trying on an alternate persona, just for the fun of it — even if just for a day – was pretty irresistible.

And, here I was several decades later, standing in the middle of a Halloween store, experiencing some of those same feelings. I was surprised at just how equally exciting and intimidating it was to see so many choices spread out in front of me, so many options as to what I could choose to be.

What a perfect metaphor these overflowing costume racks were for the abundance of possibilities available to each of us as we create our life plan! Are we happy with the choices we made, with the identities we’ve chosen for ourselves? If we had it to do over again, would we choose differently?

I confronted myself with an important question, “What life would I have chosen if I’d had the courage to believe in unlimited possibility, to push past insecurities and go for my most “impossible dream.”

And what about now? Who would I choose to be; what would I choose to do, right here, right now if I could silence my logical mind and refuse to accept that I’m “too old” to pursue new dreams? What would my current life look like if I didn’t believe in limitations?

Kids don’t understand limitations; they accept infinite possibility as the natural order of things. My friend’s six year old daughter didn’t reject the Disney Cinderella costume her mom bought her because she didn’t think the glass shoe would fit or that she was worthy of royalty status. My seven year old grandson didn’t say, “No, I can’t be Spiderman because he’s only a comic book character and saving the world is impossible anyway.”

Kids don’t get bogged down in “what’s possible/what’s not possible” thinking. They just eagerly embrace the fun of dreaming big; the details will work themselves out with time.

What new identity, what role would you want to try on if you could — even if just for one day? It’s a provocative question for all of us grownups, one well worth taking the time to explore.

Postscript

I didn’t come home with a costume that day, but I did come home with a decidedly new perspective on what my future might hold.

I also went into my basement and found a few costumes I’d accumulated over the years. I was particularly drawn to a cute little flapper outfit, and if a Halloween party opportunity presents itself, I’m bringing it out of storage. It’s a courageous choice — I haven’t gone sleeveless in years. But I also just really like fringe, lots and lots of fringe. Hmmm… when I grow old I will wear… fringe. Maybe I should write a poem about that.

_Linda M. Potter is a writer, popular speaker, the editor of BellaSpark Magazine, and the author of If Only God Would Give Me a Sign! For more information, or to book Linda to speak at your next event, contact her at <linda@lindampotter.com>. www.lindampotter.com.