Turn On - Turn Off

We love to be scared…on our own terms. We gravitate to menacing images of the macabre, the figures hovering in the shadows, standing just on the edge of our peripheral vision, making movements that are ever so slight and imperceptible…our greatest fears creeping suddenly closer until they are upon us and enveloping us in a cloak of darkness. We go to fake haunted houses at Halloween. We play with Tarot cards and ouija boards and have séances to reach out to what we believe are the spirits of those who have passed out of this physical world. Our television choices feature a morbid dose of fear: Supernatural, Medium, The Night Stalker, Ghost Whisperer.

Indeed we can focus on scaring ourselves every night of the week, mere moments after we’ve eaten our mashed potatoes and have tucked the kids into bed.

Another horror flick dominated the movie box office this past weekend and if you were tired of “It’s A Wonderful Life” showing on Christmas Day – there was a channel that broadcast the entire Halloween series. We are enamored with those scary things we can control...and if it’s too much to take, we can cover our eyes or fast-forward with the dvd remote.

The artificial shock of Michael Myers jumping out to slash away at our physical being refocuses our fears off our real lives and helps us temporarily forget the all too real terrors, horrors and sorrows that are not dismissed with the change of a channel. There are images, events, moments and memories that haunt our minds and souls. And they are not so easily chased away.

Real fear...it's more than a book or movie could ever bring. I know what it feels like, to be scared so much I can't move, can't breathe. I'm afraid to hear the next words coming out of someone's mouth. I'm afraid to remember but can't seem to forget despite the passage of years and the addition of physical distance.

Have you felt time stop and within a split second there is, simultaneously, the sound of clocks and heartbeats pounding against your eyes, the smell of skin pulled taut with indecision, the taste of ashes choking your throat, vision blinded by tears and numbed to the point that goosebumps and and hairs on the back of your neck rising would be welcome?

Or have you?

I pray you have not. I pray you will never know that level of fear and horror and can instead continue to turn it on and off as your heart and mind see fit.


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