Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Looking For Ghosties

From Ghoulies to Ghosties, To Long-Legged Beasties, To Things That Go Bump In The Night, May The Good Lord Deliver Us!!!

As I get older, I get harder to scare. There was a time when a stroll through a cemetery on a gray afternoon would raise goosebumps along my arms and raise the hair on my neck. Hell, I could freak myself out by just sitting on the front porch of my house, watching the darkness gather over the neighborhood and listening to the dayworld give way to the world of the Night.

Now that old graveyard is just a graveyard. The front porch is a place to sit.

Is it that as we get old, and I'm talking about fifties and sixties, that the approach of our mortality makes the supernatural world less frightening? Or is it that as my belief wanes, my lack of spirituality, that I don't have the same experience? Perhaps my fears have been replaced by other fears. Maybe I am more alarmed by the prospect of having a stroke and becoming helpless and a burden on loved ones. Maybe I am more terrified by dementia or Alzheimers. Perhaps I fear the infirmity of old age and the dread onset of a realization that so many hopes and dreams can never be realized, that disappointment is a mocking friend that whispers in the ear.

Strangely, I want to be afraid. I want to feel the first prickling of horror at the unexplainable return. I want to be terrified of the boogeyman. I write about fear all the time, now I want it back.

When I first started writing this blog back in August of last year, I wrote about an experience I had with fireflies that set me searching for faeries. Maybe this summer, I need to return to the search. I believe the human spirit is an amazing thing and that it is possible to renew a sense of wonder and discovery. I believe it possible to revive the part of the soul that has quieted or been set aside.

Maybe in addition to looking for faeries, the search should now include the things that go bump in the night.


avery said...

You have a couple of years on me, Stewart, but I have to agree my fear of the oogie boogies wanes as the awareness of my frailty as a mortal being grows. Also, the presence of sociopaths and zealots within our society tends to occupy a lot of my free scared-time these days.

Maybe you just need to turn your imagination on yourself. I had a friend who rented a house on a chicken farm (lovely smell). It was out in the middle of nowhere. At night, when there was no moon, the entire area was in pitch blackness. A long, fallow field separated his house from a thick patch of woods. One night we played a game of, "What would be the scariest thing to see come out of those woods and across that field?" We tossed around ideas until that friend suggested fast zombies. We laughed, but then our group grew silent as each of us had the full mental image of a single zombie running hell bent for leather towards the flimsy screen door. That night I remembered what it was like to be scared of the boogeyman, and driving back along the deserted road lined by dozens of other fallow fields, I had to fight not to put the pedal to the floor.

DesLily said...

when we were young we were invincible! We never thought of death.. only old people died (ah well, we THOUGHT that anyway)
Our fears are surely replaced by "reality fears" as we grow old.. sad but true.

I really REALLY hope you find those fairies!

Charles Gramlich said...

I think it is possible to revive that part of the soul. For me the new surroundings of my new place, and the move back to the country, has set that in motion. I'm feeling young again, even though my bones and joints still creak and crack when I rise in the morning. Many things are coming back to me.

SQT said...

Maybe having kids keeps the fear of the dark alive. I can suppress it most of the time, but I still have those moments when a strange sound in the house will make me go real still with the thought that I just heard a stranger's footstep.

I've always had an overactive imagination. I can still look at our gas fireplace at night and see what looks like a ghostly face looking out a me. I know it's only in my mind, but it can still give me the creeps.

Claudia said...

I've always been terribly susceptible. I prefer not to watch scary movies or go looking for boogeymen (they might get me!!) but I love cemetaries.

Donnetta Lee said...

I, like you Stewart, have had a shift in the focus of my fears. Maybe that does happen to us as we grow older. I fear pain,I believe, more than anything else. I can still wake up from a really bad dream and have the creepy crawly skin, pull the covers over my head. But I look for the faeries, too. I think I just saw one glancing over your shoulder! (And the magic is right there in your writing!)

Stewart Sternberg said...

Avery, fast zombies are terrifying. I remember when I saw the remake of the Dawn of the Dead, the entire beginning of the film where the undead are running around was startling. They should have kept up that pace throughout the rest of the film.

Reality fears, Deslily. Egad. You and Donetta Lee here touch something..that physical reality. I have never had a heart attack, but I think I fear that more than I fear a return of my cancer.

Charles, you are a country boy. I wish I could take the same sustenance from nature.

Claudia, why do I get the feeling that when you are soaking in a bath, that a noise somewhere in the house, a creak, a whisper....something...sets you to shivering.

SQT..I think parents with children go through some special fears. Still, it's wonderful to tap into their emotions and sense of wonder.

Lucas Pederson said...

Be wary, old timer...there be things that go bump in the night that don't want to be found...

As for myself, well, I'm still scared of the dark. Yes, okay, fine. Have your laugh. You done? Okay. I'm not as bad as I used to be. When I was in my early teens I'd wrap up in the blanket, even though the night was sweltering. I did this to avoid feeling a cold clammy hand touch my leg or foot. I saw shadows move when they really weren't...or were they? Every little creak the house made would further prove the fact that there was a zombie in the house, looking for someone to munch on.
I had to sleep with my bedside lamp on every night, up until I was about sixteen. At that time I had other things to worry about. Acne, the old rusted out Oldsmobile Cutlass Surpreme I bought for three hundred bucks, girls, how to avoid math class..ect. So boogies and creepers sort of just faded back into my mind. Oh, they still visit from tiem to time, but I think your right Stewart, as one ages, even if their not fifty or sixty, it takes more to scare them. Greta post!

And what's the deal? I haven't gotten a comment from you on my blog for like, a month. Are we too good for the little people now? Just kidding. See ya later!

Susan Miller said...

Oh gosh, I remember the firefly post and think it is wonderful that you are considering this quest. Although it gets difficult at times, I think we should always be open to magic.

Fab said...

Things that go bump in the night. How very Calvin&Hobbes.

I don't do well with scary stuff. That's why I don't like horror movies. And I have a very vivid imagination, especially for worst case scenarios.

But what scares me the most is human nature. The things people do to each other. Last week a girl was found dead, who had gone missing some days before. She was my age and again it makes me feel strange when I go to work, all alone on the subway and through the woods. It's scary that you can't do or go without always be aware of things around you.

Sidney said...

I do miss the days when a movie could scare me and when a ghost story brought a chill and a tingle. I think it's true that real worries certainly override concerns about gremlins and goblins that have yet to show themselves or harm me.

Wait what was that?

SQT said...

I totally get where Lucas is coming from.

I was scared of vampires as a kid. I would pull the blankets up over my neck (as if this would help) to keep my neck safe and covered as I slept. I did it so much that I sleep this way now out of pure habit.

It was strange explaining this to my husband. Fortunately he found it endearing rather than just weird.

Stewart Sternberg said...

When I was a kid, I was terrified of two things: Frankenstein's Monster and George Washington. Why? Because I learned that George Washington's face was horribly pockmarked from smallpox and that he wore wooden dentures. The images I created from that were not for the squeamish.

avery said...

Sqt, my vampires came from below. I thought miniature ones lived in the spot under the covers where the top sheet met the bed and if I uncurled my legs they'd bite my toes. As a writer, the idea amused me enough that I had to work it into my book. But, as a kid, I was terrified.

SQT said...

Avery, thank goodness I never came up with that idea as a kid.

Lee said...

As a Catholic I grew up scared of Hell. Really, really scared. Satan was real and he had his eye on me. So did God and he was unforgiving. Luckily, I've grown out of this one.

But spiders. They make me irrational. I would love to chill about it, but it's too primordial.

With clowns, I realize anyone who hides their real face makes me uncomfortable.

spyscribbler said...

I have to say, I can pinpoint the day that my awareness of my mortality kicked in. I used to love heights, love adventure, love everything.

And then, one day, out of the mysterious clear blue, I was scared of heights, scared of spiders, scared of dirt, scared of my shadow, scared of ... gosh, everything. Since that day, it hasn't waned a bit.

It's silly! Infuriating!

Stewart Sternberg said...

Lee, horror writers the world over should get down on one knee and thank religion for the wealth of material it has given them to scare the hell out of people.

Scribbler, I wonder why the fear came all at once. Something had to spark the onset. Maybe hormones.

Claudia said...

i'm not so scared of ghosts as I am of what real people might do...I think I had a ghost in my old house...some nights when I went to bed late, I'd hear what sounded like furniture being dragged across the floor. I'd ask my roommate what on earth? and he never heard a thing or was sound asleep. So, I named the ghost George and if things would go missing, I'd tell George to give it back or at least help me find it!!

Robin said...

If you have a lack of spirituality (and I'm no 'religious' person) then all you have is the fear of human failings- and the truth of that becomes more obvious as we age. I am 'spiritual' (a term I hate) so sometimes I am afraid of the unknown. More often, just aware of it.

Again...a lurker thru Whim. I'm so glad I found you.