Or, how the “Pumpkin King” of Halloween Town found the ‘other side’ of life.
In The Nightmare Before Christmas, the original mashup film of my two favorite holidays, Mr. Skellington is seen questioning things.
As the “Pumpkin King” of Halloween Town, where he’s been the grand master of ghoulish ceremonies, he’s just flat out getting bored with the same ol’ creepy shit every year.
“I’m sick of the scaring, the terror, the fright.
I’m tired of being something that goes bump in the night.
I’m bored with leering my horrible glances,
And my feet hurt from dancing those skeleton dances.
I don’t like graveyards, and I need something new.
There must be more to life than just yelling, ’Boo!’”
~ Excerpt from the Tim Burton poem that is the basis of the film.
No doubt, Jack, no doubt about it!
Accepting one identity carte blanche, and adopting it for all its worth… it can get monotonous, huh?
Even for patron spirits like yourself whose calling comes with a lot of fame and otherworldly talents (even a sidekick dog with a cool light-up nose).
If YOU, Jack, are seeking more… then dammit, there’s no holding me back either.
So, what are chumps like us supposed to do? Resist the urge to desire something different; to seek knowing about another side — something unseen and un-felt?
Nah, that kind of stubbornness in the face of nature’s duality won’t work. If we even smell a small whiff of a polar-opposite reality, of a fresh way of BE-ing, our nose will lead the way.
(back to you, Dear flustered reader, and not Jack)
In the infamous What’s This? seen, Jack appears just a tad taken aback (understatement) by the warmth, revelry and bright colors of Christmas Town. Again, after all, that town’s “light” is about as far-removed as it can get to his “dark” Halloween Town.
Which brings me to a personally-revealing observation I hope you’ll indulge me with.
First, I’ll admit that I fought tooth and nail to get “dressed up” for a Halloween party. I never dress-up. Never have. Always felt, there’s more pressing and pertinent things to do.
Submitting to my partner’s passionate pitch that “you’re gonna rock Jack!,” I ended up this past Saturday night as none other than… eh, the “Pumpkin King” himself!
Yup, this is me in full-on Skellington regalia; complete with a 45-min makeup job and custom hand-crafted suit (compliments of Goodwill):
What I found intriguing, and I hope useful to you to know, is this:
When my “mask” went ON, my ego turned off (mostly, that is). Like the character himself, I found myself asking / saying What’s this? What’s this? There’s something very wrong!
I felt freer, more alive and unencumbered to “letting loose.” That felt “wrong” to me because of how long I had been protecting the version of myself that identified with decorum and constraint in public.
How double-edged that it has been natural, easier, to be more vulnerable privately. Or, maybe even warped that I have been rude, shameless, toxic (even on the edges of abusive behavior) privately in the past.
In the aforementioned film (1993), Jack wanted (more than anything) to understand the underlying spirit of joy and happiness. I once wanted (more than anything) a way to understand, then change, the burgeoning “darkness” within a past partner.
But, instead of stepping back and accepting her for who she is — and just letting the cards fall where they may fall — I demanded she play out a MY script. One that berated and blamed her for fueling my own inner-monster.
Jack’s ragdoll hottie, Sally, was his voice of reason; his head-to-heart connection that allowed him to get past seeing life in absolutes. Between 2010 to 2013, my partner (or “wife” as I was accustomed to calling her) mirrored-back to me many of the “bad” qualities I was so skilled at hiding from the world.
“The people who trigger us to feel negative emotion are messengers. They are messengers for the unhealed parts of our being.” — Teal Swan
We all want to be heard in this short life we live. We all want to be seen and appreciated for the “good” qualities we offer-up to the world; especially to those closest to us.
To be perceived as suave, nice, cool, respectful, confident and warmhearted… it’s the way of the warrior-poet.
But, like so many who have disappointed and fooled us — the luminaries, mentors, leaders and gurus in our life we simply presume have the resources to ‘figure their shit out” (the Robin Williams’, Kate Spade’s, Anthony Bourdain’s of the world), we have to step-back from the exalted podium we put them on and realize one truth:
Irrespective of wealth, status, or pedigree, everybody is going through something dark.
It was probably Carl Jung who first started talking about our Shadow Selves (do correct me if it was somebody else) — i.e., those parts of our ego we dislike and disown; that we regret and repress.
Unless you already embody a perfect absolute of identity, just as Jack did prior to getting his whiff of “the other side,” then each and everyone of us deals with our our shadow sides… consistently.
The key here I’ve found is to NOT try and deny any of your traits on the extreme sides of the spectrum. There is always a “complementary opposite” repressed trait to each & every one we humans express. Or, at least those we try and sell ourselves (and the world) we have and find valuable.
Whether “nice” / “bad” or “kind” / “mean,” its ultimately a feeling of “completeness” we’re after.
As Dr. Jordan Peterson explains in this short clip, without letting YOU fully out… you might just be in for one helluva bumpy ride:
Sir Jack, Halloween Town’s gratuitous celebrity ghoul, may have been a bit OCD and impulsive in his quest to experience goodness and the other-sided extreme of his given occupation.
And, if you know the film well, you know he was made to be the prototypical tragic hero.
But, even “heroes fuck up.”
To continue with Aubrey Marcus’ thought: “The difference is a Hero lets mistakes REfine them, whereas others let mistakes DEfine them.”
The king of Halloween Town, I’m confident, did the same. He lives in infamy, just as anyone who faces BOTH his/her “negatives” AND “positives” does.
And, yes, as the astute movie buff you most likely are, the title of this post was borrowed from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Another classic about a protagonist looking to explore another “life” that is beyond, different than, his everyday, routine experiences.
On my Manifest Life 2.0 waiting list, yet? If not, get to it sparky. I’m going to take you down some deeper rabbit holes (if you can stomach the challenge).