Coat Racks and Nightmares

Coat Racks and Nightmares

Awareness changes thoughts and feelings. It makes fearful thoughts, like “what if” or “this must mean that”, matter so much less, somehow. Witnessing them steals their power. Or, perhaps, like ghosts, fearful thoughts are released by awareness and given wings to fly and join the other ghosts of thought. They sing their haunting tunes together, a choir of greys and whites, echoing from closets and memories but fading the way ghosts do behind the new experiences each day brings until one day we’ve forgotten our ghosts.

I suppose that’s how it is. Fears live in our lives how ghosts do in children’s. We, like children, eventually outgrow ghosts. But they never completely disappear, the way sometimes in the dark I mistake, only for a moment, the dark shape in the corner of the room for some monster from a dream I had when I was five. We remember our fears, even the oldest ones, from time to time. Maybe we’re supposed to so we’ll remember where we’ve come from and how we’ve grown from old fears to new, more accurate ones. Because as humans, there’s inevitably always a next fear.

So, life could be defined as traveling (forward, hopefully) from one fear to the next, our goal to not stay with one fear too long or allow old ghosts to haunt us again. Awareness is smiling at old ghosts and seeing their dark mass in the corner as a coat rack made monstrous by our minds. The world makes our minds see monsters; rarely are they more than harmless shapes we mistake by asking “what if?” Which is to say, ghosts exist only because we take our minds too seriously.

But fear, as they say, is healthy. If fear disappeared completely, so wouldn’t joy and maybe life altogether It’s probably not our mission to be fearless, but instead to free ourselves from fear’s grip, that clutch that paralyzes a childer under their covers with the same terrifying images repeating through their mind. How many children would rest easier at night if taught how to observe the thoughts of ghosts? Instead, we play the terrifying mental movies over and over, feeling an actor in the film each time.

How many of us would avoid arguments or bad decisions or depressive/anxious episodes? If we embarked on learning to witness our ghosts, how much quicker would they become coat racks instead of monsters and nightmares?

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