Friday, October 28, 2011

Hallowe'en and its magic

If there's one holiday in the year that I look forward to with an insane amount of excitement it's Hallowe'en. Ever since I was a child this holiday has been significant, not only for the costumes and candy but for the experiences I've had. Some of my earliest memories are of a Hallowe'en store somewhere in northern Indiana in the late 80s, early 90s. I can recall the huge pumpkin displays and the gift of wax lips my sister and I chewed on in the back of our family's car. I can still hear the bubbling of a cauldron, the howling of distant wolfmen, and the groaning of undead which emanated from our car stereo as my dad played a horror sound effects tape, making sure to crank the volume at the most horrifying points. It was an obnoxiously amusing decision against which my mother screamed loud protests.

Nothing beats the enchantment of this holiday especially when one considers the traditions and history it represents. From early pagan festivals to the Irish lantern turnip humanity has been, in some way, remembering the importance of harvest time and the thinning of the veil between the world of those of us who live and the shadow realm of those long dead. The macabre holds center stage as the night hours spring to life with new mystery and whimsy. It's a fitting time to think not only about the end of the tiring growing season but to dream about the vague wonders that lay beyond our comprehension. There's no better time to subject one's self to horror. Nor is there a better time to revel in the fear and magic of it all.

This year I carved my first Jack o' Lantern since I was a small child. Knowing now why the pumpkin is carved and what it represents, I am able to enjoy this tradition in a way I could not before. As I stared into the glowing eyes of the hollowed-out vegetable I could not help but let my imagination go wild. I thought of all the dark, spooky things that are spoken of this time of year. I thought of witches communing around secret fires and eaters of man-flesh roaming the streets looking for a wholesome, delectable kill. My mind went to the covens of imbibers of life's sanguine fluid as they gather in high rooms, contemplating their approach to commemorating the day this year. I also thought of traditional spirits as they also took their place roaming the night. Woe be, I thought, to the one who meets the dullahan somewhere far away upon a murky road, or heaven protect the one who hears the keening of the bean sidhe out in the misty midnight as she turns over a blood-soaked article of clothing in her bony hands.

This year, dear reader, may you find and enjoy the true magic of this incredible holiday. Whether you spend it amongst friends, at home with classic, seasonal horror films, or out performing dark deeds, enjoy. Happy Hallowe'en!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pursuit of Dreams and the Frequented Path

We recall names, famous and great, when speaking of ideas and events. They are our markers, our examples. A referent seems necessary for any person to make any kind of declaration. It grounds our current words and trends in history and ties together culture, society, and species. I suppose I have a few names to throw out now as I declare that as of January of the next year I will cease attending college to pursue a career in writing.

The names I'd like to apply to support this declaration are Benjamin Franklin and the recently late Steve Jobs. These two men, separated by centuries, periods, and technological evolution are examples of success beyond the realm of formal education. Both men at some point abandoned the over-structured series of courses and subjects, striking out to teach themselves new ideas and apply their talents to the world. In doing this both of these fellows found success and apparently, from what he have to read of their lives and experiences, were richer, more well-rounded people for making such a decision.

I hope to find a way to market my writing so that I can spend the rest of my life contributing to the immeasurable library of our species. If I can sell my work to periodicals, fiction magazines, and perhaps get a novel published within a seven month period I will have the evidence and confirmation I need to continue to work at and pursue a professional life of expression and word-smithing. If I should find success in even one of these areas that will be sufficient.

This decision is justified, I feel, by the remarks and support I've received from readers of my writing since my late high school days to the present. I have found enough serious and considerate feedback to support at least an attempt at having the life and profession I desire. To be fair to myself, my wife, and our future I at least have to try. Ideally I'd like to regularly publish articles, stories, and novels and be able to support my wife by doing so.

As far as education is concerned, I know that I am naturally inquisitive, though I am often easily distracted from things of interest. While working at developing a writing career I will not neglect the growth of my knowledge. What hope shall I have if I am to be working from a stagnant mind? To avoid such I will continue to study and self-educate as anyone and everyone should until their life's end.

If I find failure in this course, which for me would be to not sell or successfully publish any work in over a half year period, I shall return to furthering my education at the university level and working my non-creative, stale office job. My hope is that this is not where I find myself in half a year's time, but if it is I will accept that my path goes in a different direction and I will continue what I have been doing. The important thing, regardless of what happens in this period, is that I will have tried.

Like Franklin and Jobs I hope to look back years from now on a life of which I'm proud. May I find then, if my life be so fortunate, that my accomplishments sprang from, to paraphrase Sir Philip Sidney, following the zodiac of my own wit. Here's to an attempt to not only follow a path traversed by the greats but to pursue my dreams and make them my reality.