When it’s late at night and you can’t sleep, does your past ever snuggle under the covers, and haunt you? Do you think about embarrassing things you’ve done, or people you miss? Do you ever feel haunted?
“In one aspect, yes, I believe in ghosts, but we create them. We haunt ourselves.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls
I love a good ghost story, and I’ve noticed that there are some very emotional ghosts out there. They’re stuck in their pasts. They’re often stuck on one thing that happened to them, and they’re after the living for that reason. Ghosts are our consciences, because they won’t let us let go of things we’d rather pretend we aren’t responsible for.
When it’s late at night, and you can’t sleep, and you’re alone with nothing to do but think–that’s when our ghosts show up.
With a ghost right in front of you, you have to deal with your own misdeeds. Of course, it’s often not the ghost that’s the problem. It’s you. You, who won’t let go of it.
“Ghosts don’t haunt us. That’s not how it works. They’re present among us because we won’t let go of them.”
― Sue Grafton, M is for Malice
Of course, it’s easier to ignore during the day. When it’s light out and you’re busy and only the most rational of beings. As Patricia Briggs wrote in her book Dragons Bones, “It’s easier to dismiss ghosts in the daylight.”
Unless you’ve really let them dig in. Unless you’re carrying around some part of them–a locket around your neck, a memory too deep in your brain.
“Ghosts have a way of misleading you; they can make your thoughts as heavy as branches after a storm.”
― Rebecca Maizel, Infinite Days
Then you’re in trouble. Then you’ve got ghosts showing up at work, in the classroom, and everybody starts to notice there’s something a little bit off about you. You look a little… haunted.
“Now I know what a ghost is. Unfinished business, that’s what.”
― Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses
So if you’re haunted, what do you do about it? If we turn to ghost stories, well, you face it head on. You stare it in the face and you talk about what the real problem is, and you logic talk your ghost into blasting off into its happily ever after.
Like most things, it’s easier in the movies. Try sleeping with the light on?
I’m always going to love ghost stories for this very obvious metaphor into our own haunted lives, full of memories we can’t let go of (because we want to remember our lives!) but can’t grip too tightly, for fear of ghosts.
Are you a fan of ghost stories? Why do you think you like them?
I’m going to leave you with a song I’m obsessed with called, fittingly, “The Ghost, by EFTERKLANG. The music video is kind of just what we need for this discussion.