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Trick Or Treat

Since I’m writing this blog on Halloween, it only seems appropriate that I choose a topic that relates to this holiday…although my daughter, Katie, doesn’t understand how it can be a “holiday,” yet she has to go to school today!

Understandably, kids love this holiday. In fact, lots of adults do, too. After all, when else can you get away with dressing as whatever outrageous character or alter-ego you choose, plus get candy for just knocking on doors? That reminds me of when Katie was about 4 years old, and first learning how to trick-or-treat. She walked up to a door and I prompted her by saying, “What do you say?” before she rang the bell.

“Open da door!” was her reply. Well, she wasn’t exactly wrong! 

So for one Halloween night, or maybe a couple of parties and various festive events, we dress up and express our right to act the part that our mask and costume portrays. Then when it’s over, we take off the costume, remove the fake hair, clean off the clown make-up, and return to ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with becoming someone we’re not, unless we forget or choose not to take off the costume when the holiday is over.

There are some people who walk through life wearing a costume, although to our eyes it seems that they look normal enough. But these people are hiding behind a persona that they’ve created, for whatever reason that suits them...and some which they have no control. We can look around our practices and see that some of our colleagues still wear costumes now. The playground bully who puts on the tough act to hide his or her insecurity. The “stuck-up” or ever-popular person who pretends to be much more self-confident than she or he really is; the class clown who uses humor to hide his or her sorrow and disappointment. The “teacher’s pet” who lacks the self assurance to feel good about him or herself, so needs that encouragement from the boss on a constant basis. The untouchable “cold” one, who has built a wall up around him or herself so to keep the bad feelings out, who also manages to keep all the good feelings out, too.

Perhaps we all wear a costume of sorts, a persona that we show to the world that hides some or all of who we are. When we look in the mirror, do we see who we really are, or who we want to be? How do we strive to feel accepted for who we are, what we are, with all the truth and ugliness it contains? How do we reach out to others, get to know the person under the costume, in a way “naked?”

I think it’s in showing each other that we are penetrable, that we have faults, that we aren’t perfect, that we make mistakes sometimes, yet we are special enough to deserve forgiveness. It’s giving each other the benefit of the doubt, instead of the brunt of the blame. It’s realizing that we can laugh and be amazed by the costumes others wear, the costume that we wear, yet know that underneath we are all just people trying to do the right thing for pets and the people who love them.

By the way, Katie was a timber wolf this year. She is studying the fate of the wolf, once endangered here in Wisconsin, now protected as we give them back their rightful place on the landscape. Happy Howling Halloween!


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