Scary Fun

It’s Halloween season.
And people are looking forward to frightening themselves.
With horror movies and haunted houses.
It’s a weird kind of high.
A chemical cascade triggered by the fight-or-flight response.
An adrenaline rush, but with a sense of control.
It feels dangerous, but it’s not really dangerous.
And so it’s exciting, almost primal.
Our hearts beat faster.
Our blood pressure and respiration increase.
We get butterflies in the pits of our stomachs.
Our minds become fully aware, conscious, in the moment.
And we feel stronger and more alert.
Sensations that are outside our safe and boring daily routines.
Which makes us feel alive!
If we’re conscious of the illusion.
If we sense no actual risk.
The adrenaline rush is enjoyable.
The experience becomes play.
Screams turn into laughs and smiles.
Because we’re aroused.
And we know we have nothing to worry about.
We also feel a sense of satisfaction.
A strange self-esteem boost.
Because we’ve succeeded, we survived.
Human beings are strange animals.
We want to feel, to be aroused by life.
But, we want it to be safe and under our control.
And then we can approach life with curiosity and wonder.
But here’s the thing.
Wittgenstein wrote, “We are asleep. Our life is a dream. But we wake up sometimes, just enough to know that we are dreaming.”
Life is make-believe and temporary.
Just like walking into a haunted house.
If you’re asleep, you’re a slave to your feelings.
Like a terrified child.
There is no free will.
You’ll never enjoy the fear, because you’re unaware of the illusion.
But if you wake up, your free will is unlimited.
You can get excited again.
And play!
So wake up.
Don’t take yourself or your circumstances too seriously.
Step into your fears.
Have some scary fun.
And come fully alive.

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.
— Edgar Allan Poe