Pitter Patter, It's Halloween
Personality exchange and impending doom
Halloween is a holiday entrenched in the fascination of death, and the polarity of humans engaging in completely faux behavior, adopting entirely different personalities to accompany their doctored appearance. In a way it’s comical to display such indifference to the harsh realities of life.
Adopting a different persona can shed light on the aspects of your core personality that haven’t been utilized, or perhaps have been in the shadows. It’s also an overt strategy at embodying a completely different perspective than what one occupies. If you reflect on the behavior you engage in while in costume and compare it to your daily behavior, it can teach you things about yourself you may not have otherwise discovered.
For Halloween this year, I’ll be dressing up as Wayne from the show Letterkenny. It is far and away my favorite comedy. There are many aspects of the character Wayne in which I align, like his love for drinking beer (Puppers) and just as many others I can’t comprehend, such as his ridiculous sayings such as “Pitter patter, let’s get ar ‘er.” It’s a brilliant blend of connection with absolute confusion, feeding the boisterous laughter I cannot help but exude every time I watch.
A new level of self awareness can be achieved when adopting a temporary persona. In order to adopt a new role, you must become an actor - every iota is calculated and thought about beforehand and in real time, therefore autopilot, or your standard behavior, cannot take over and fill in the gaps. It’s like traveling somewhere you’ve never been before. You become a data-cruncher, constantly combing your surroundings and calculating the proper response.
It’s also a chance for one to characterize themselves as what they wish to never be, or perhaps what they are afraid of becoming. I’m reminded of a scene from the movie What About Bob, where Bill Murray plays a psychiatric patient who has all sorts of issues like OCD, depression, anxiety, etc. He’s meeting with his new psychiatrist and is attempting to reveal the severity of his condition by faking a heart attack. After a few moments of writhing on the floor, he gets up and says “If I can fake it then it means I don’t have it.”
If we fake personality traits or various behaviors we don’t wish to possess, it’s a form of self-assurance that it is not who we truly are.
Not only is Halloween a time for us to temporarily adopt another personality, it is a sobering reminder of our future and almost an overt celebration of a survival instinct we all possess.
What is this instinct? To not engage in the harsh reality of no longer existing by making it into a game. Laurence Gonzales speaks about this idea in his book Deep Survival, where he visited a briefing among fighter pilots taking off and landing on an aircraft carrier. Yankovich, the team commander of the pilots in training, briefs them moments before their test flights:
“Yankovich continued his briefing: ‘The steam curtain comes upland you lose the yellowshirt for a minute. You’ll be a hero real quick if you have the fold handle in the wrong position, so check. Spread ‘em, five potatoes, and you’re all set. Okay, wipeout, the engine comes up, see that they match. The safety guys jump up and make sure the beer cans are down. Tension signal. Hands you off to the shooter, and then: head abck and four G’s. Grab the towel rack.Touch the ejection seat handle and make sure you’re not siting on it. If you lose an engine on the cat, stroke the blowers, twelve-to-fourteen-not-to-extend-sixteen. Rad Alt: You see you’re descending, the wiser man will grab the handle.’
"What the hell did he just say…?”
Gonzales goes on to explain the reasoning behind this seemingly meaningless combination of words. In short, it’s a coded message so the pilots understand and digest the risks involved in possible fatal errors, without saying explicitly “Any of these mistakes will absolutely kill you. He said “Only those who get it get it” and that’s what matters.
This coded explanation of possible death is similar to us celebrating Halloween. The skeletons, severed heads, and blood-stained walls are simply decoration, but subtly remind us all of our impending fates, whenever they may come.
So, Halloween. It is a holiday that displays human behavior that which would be considered downright insane any other day of the year. We celebrate death. We celebrate who we are, and who we are not. We engage in the art of self-deception and ever-so-lightly touch the surface of the untouchable to simply get a taste. What’s not to love about it?