Samhain.Posted: October 27, 2013
I went to an otherworldly masquerade last night. I’d been sick for days, and was going to do the Cancerian thing of begging off and going home to curl up on the couch, but my friends were quite insistent. So I put on my lambie hat and drove deep into the country and wandered up a long driveway in the darkness, to come upon a sparkling archway flanked by iron demons, past which there was a pageant of hundreds, milling from field to forest to farmhouse, and then later, down to a place where the earth had been plowed in circles and a bonfire bloomed in the middle. I traced the furrows around and around, every time finding old friends, new friends, people I hadn’t seen in ages, people I didn’t want to see, all transformed by costume and firelight. A mosaic of the last eight years.
The last six months have been an avalanche of good news. One thing after another, too fast to internalize. And it’s not going to slow down: I have a reading of my new play next week, and then I go to New York, London, and Amsterdam to see friends and meet editors; and then I return to the dream world of Belize, back to my friends, back to the cave; then my novel comes out the day before opening night of my next play.
Growing with my anticipation of these days is a fear that I’m going to die before any of it happens.
I’m sure this is as natural a fear as it is irrational. I’m in no more danger of dying, from accident or otherwise, than I was six months ago. I’m a very healthy 32-year-old. But my mother died when she was 60, and so my subconscious is always calculating: “Okay, I have twenty-eight years left. Twenty-eight years to see Angkor Wat, the Limpopo River, the teahouses of Kyoto, Tehran, Rajasthan, Jerusalem, and my family’s home of County Wexford where my ancestors celebrated Samhain. Twenty-eight years to love as many people as I can. Twenty-eight years to tell as many stories as possible before time runs out.” And then of course, I think: “What if I don’t have twenty-eight years? What if I only have ten, or five, or one?”
Things can get out of hand.
Samhain is a festival for those who have passed on. If they’re more present to us at this time of year than others, I would tell them, if I have any say, Please, not yet. Not now. Not for a long, long time. I have so much to do.