Scooby-Doo was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid. It was always the perfect dose of spooky, and I could always count on the ending. Scooby and the gang would create an elaborate plan to catch the monster or ghost, and the last scene would be an unveiling- they would remove the monster’s mask and show the onlookers that it was just a real estate developer trying to haunt people away from staying in a hotel, or an angry neighbor kid messing with people for fun. In one of Rudy Francisco’s poems, he writes about this theme. It reads:
A lesson from Scooby-Doo:
Perhaps every monster
Is really just a human being
Halloween is this Thursday, and the monsters will be out and about. But this is not the only time for monsters- monsters are around us all the time. We see them cutting us off on the road. We see them taking their shoes AND socks off on the airplane. We see them double-dipping into the party guac. Monsters. Are. Real.
Monsters also show up in the mirror. For me, I monster-ize myself just about every time I make a mistake - when I put my foot in my mouth, when I forget to call my mom back when I land myself yet another parking ticket.
How much pain could we alleviate if we could find it in us to lift the masks and look for the humanity in the people and circumstances we find most stressful? What if we could take a beat, and acknowledge that the dude who just cut you off is just trying to get to where he’s going, too? This is not about fostering the human connection, in fact, it’s the opposite. When we feed into these little ‘me vs. the monster’ narratives, we’re succumbing to the part of ourselves that loves to take things personally; by letting them go, it just might get a little easier to go about our day without getting derailed by agitation.
We can also apply this concept of humanizing to our own self-perception. One of my favorite mantras, taught to me by my teacher Erin, passed down from her teacher, is this:
How human of me.
Sometimes self-love is not the most acceptable- it can’t all be roses all the time. Self belonging, though, is possible all the time, and can be a way of bringing ourselves out of the vicious self talk (“I just ate an entire sleeve of Oreos! I’m a monster!”) and into a neutral headspace (“ I’m feeling guilty because I just ate a sleeve of Oreos. How human of me.”) With the mask lifted, you might be able to find a little more breathing room between you and you. And with that space, you just might develop a little more clarity around whatever it is you're experiencing.
So, with that, Happy Halloween! Stay safe, and try to be nice to monsters- they’re all just humans in costumes.