Did you dress up this Halloween? Were you an animal, a popular character, a pun, or a “sexy” something? I saw a huge range of costumes yesterday; both children and adults went all out for Halloween. I then found myself asking the question, why don’t we do this all year?
The answer is: we do. While my sweaters and stretchy pants are not as exciting as a panda bear or Hermione Granger costume, I still wear clothes that are attached to an identity.
On Halloween we all ask each other, “What are you?” On all of the other days of the year we wear costumes that are associated with clear roles and identities, so no one bothers to ask what we are dressing as.
The person in a suit and tie is in the businessperson costume, just as the person wearing a mail carrier outfit is in the mail carrier costume. The difference is, we take our everyday costumes very seriously. Our daily costumes are attached to an identity that we hold firmly in our minds, and which portray to the world what we think we are.
In the end, whether dressed as a lion or an executive, we wear costumes that are attached to an identity in our minds. When we change out of our Halloween costumes into different clothes the next day, we don’t think twice about it. But if a job, status, or title changes we can feel lost, distraught, and diminished.
Even though the roles and identities we wear day to day have been taken very seriously, as our absolute truths, throughout human history, we don’t have to buy into them anymore. After all, when at the end of life we discorporate and lose our human costumes, all of the suffering created by our attachment to identities will dissolve, and life will be seen as one big Halloween party.
What roles do you play in everyday life? What daily costumes give you a sense of identity? Create an experiment out of loosening your grip on these thought-created selves. What you end up discovering beneath them will be more truly yourself and more miraculous than every costume Party City has ever sold.