It was twilight on a cold Halloween night. The light, just escaping the day, lingered in a soft, almost-fluid grey. Leaving Great Barrington behind me, the insignificant movie hardly a memory, I swung my car up the hill, taking the less traveled road home. The neighborhood was a lovely one, beautiful contemporary houses that nevertheless felt grounded and long-standing, without any attempted effort of suburban chic. An authenticity of comfort and well-being hung in the air without snobbish offense, the properties tended, so obviously loved. As I turned up the hill and veered left, I entered an altered reality: there before me, lining both sides of the street, were flocks, droves, and hordes of costumed people, both small and big.
I slowed the car way down, instantly mesmerized by the altered reality I had blessedly entered.
You had your Frankensteins purposefully walking forward, some little, some broader and larger. There were a few skeletons, one or two beginning their fluorescent glimmering. A tiny princess or two graced the crowd, the smallest one holding her wand lovingly aloft, walking next to several Harry Potter look-alikes, a random hobo and an unconvincing but adorable petite convict in stripes. Adults, some costumed as adults, some as characters, flowed so comfortably with the pack, not an iota of supervision or override in the air. It was a tribe, a calm and purposeful tribe of costumed and non-costumed humanoids, all headed toward some wondrous destination, with easeful intent. It was, in itself, miraculous.
And then, the true Halloween miracle revealed itself: a canine family member, an Australian shepherd-like dog, walking so purposefully with its tiny tribe of four, wearing with such earnest, comfortable pride a blue and yellow starred wizard’s cape and a matching tall, pointed wizard’s cap. The unity of the dog’s steps with its people’s, the astonishing visual of it, the flow of this tiny family within the tribe of the neighborhood, the pull of the unspoken destination, the soft grey night—magic was clearly in the air. Astonished, laughing and half-crying, I slowly made my way through the neighborhood, up, up, up the hill, into darker streets, opening into woods and into fields and into silence. Made better by my brief journey with these perfect strangers, I drove away, opened, into the quiet, now-darkening night.
The wizard-dog has visited and revisited me this year. At odd times, times of emotional lag or boredom, times of a hollowed- almost-worry, the wizard-walking-dog has returned to my heart, to my inner eye. With her she brings a whimsical tenderness, a soft return of magic, of mystery.
On the night, Halloween, when the veil between the worlds was the thinnest, on the night the Celts viewed as a time of heightened spiritual divination and fortune telling, this magical wizard-dog blessed me with this fortune, this divination; if I choose to take the long way home, if I choose to turn left rather than right, if I choose to drive up some hill somewhere, I might, I just might stumble onto the unpredictable, the unknown, the mystery. Outside the habitual, outside this veil to which I am so obsessively committed, everything becomes possible.
Oh, to remember this!
Dear Readers, what do you do to shift gears out of the ordinary, the every day? How can you shake it up, to see with fresh eyes, to see—anew? Keep me posted.