These are the haunted days, this the season of veils thin as gossamer, translucent and shining. If we stand near enough to the fabric between this world and the next, we can almost hear them whispering, all those we lost, calling out to us in a language we won’t speak until we join them. We can wonder now, ponder it and roll it around our living minds, guess at what they’d say if we could understand, invent the story they are telling us while we wait. Would they be happy with how we are, with who we are, with how we love ourselves here, with what we’ve become? Those who know now, those who have learned all there is left to learn, who look through that soft cloth that separates us with wisdom that only starting over brings. The hindsight that reveals the hidden, the answers to the questions we’ve spent lifetimes asking.
Perhaps the haunting of this season is not one of ghosts, not spectres or ghouls that hide in the shadow places, but of ourselves, the “we” that we were, the dark and menacing shade of our regrets, all we left undone, unattempted, not spoken into the air like spell or promise. I hear, from time to time in this special season where the thickness of that frail curtain is at its thinnest, my own words called out into the light beyond me. I feel them pulse against the veil and shake it like drum skin, stretched tight and attached to fragile places that hold such construction up.
This time, this year, this lap around this sun, I propose a redefining, a shakeup of the dictionary words that come with Haunted, hiding nearly halfway through the book. I call haunting, I call haunted, the people we were calling out to the people we are, trying in all their wisdom, to help the people we will become. I call haunting their pleas to help us avoid making the same mistakes over and again, falling into the same traps that anchor us to our own sorrow, our own ache. If we start here, if we listen, truly listen, to the garbled melody the language of the past is fluent in, can’t we find the lessons after all? Can’t we stare back into that silk-like divide and reassure those lonely ghosts that we know, that we are not afraid, that we will not become those ghosts to those people waiting years from now to stare with their own eyes back at us.
Can’t we love ourselves more, can’t we exorcise the demons of our own regret and give them rest, as we give it to us, too? What would these silhouettes say, if for a moment we spoke their language? Would they speak of all we did not buy while we had the time, all the belongings we trade the hours we were gifted for? Would they say we should have worked more, felt more fear and anxiety for all the things we could not change? Would they tell us we should have lost more weight or eaten less dessert or spent more time on social media? No. Resoundingly No. Not a whisper of owning more, stressing more, fighting more. Not a tiny fragment of regret about stealing more time away from those we love for such trivial things. I believe, with all the strength of my own spirit, that they would speak only of the risks we did not take, the truths we did not tell, the joy we refused to slow down long enough to find. They will beg us in soft voices to please, please refuse to make the same mistakes again, to spend every single moment we have left celebrating what it is to be alive, to be capable of love, of magic, of mystery, of wonder.
This is the haunted season, one of spirits and spookiness, one of death, but one of rebirth. Let us be born again, let us put our hand to the veil between us and who we were, reach out with fingertips confident and still, and touch the wisdom we’re offering ourselves. We are haunted by ourselves, every day we are haunted, but this time, this season, let us learn, let us exorcise, and let us release the ghosts of who we once were back into the ether, back into the light, to begin again. We do not need to carry the weight of all we regret, we do not need to wait to understand. Let us make them proud, let us give them rest, and let that rest be peaceful.
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Haunted by myself,
the ghosts of who I once was,
all I didn’t do.