Santa Clause, Easter Bunny and even Charlie Brown’s the Great Pumpkin have captivated our youthful, innocent minds and filed away in the sentiment folder within our aging hearts. Myths create interest in a deeper pondering and soul searching, such as why are we here or will I go to heaven? The hopes, joy, fear and bravery that we find while exploring these myths help us discover our own strengths, interests and dreams.
Myths That Bring Us Hope
The hope that myths can bring may birth exciting new dreams, just as a child hopes for Santa to bring them a chemistry set also may hold the key to the one that will grow up to discover the cure for cancer. The Tooth Fairy may bring more than money, to one child, she may bring the excitement of a fantasy world that will spark the next big Disney movie. While the child that anxiously awaits the Easter Bunny is taught the true meaning of Easter, as to how Christ conquered the grave, may grow up to become a missionary. Hope in these types of myths can develop creativity and self discovery of personal interests.
Myths That Make Us Laugh
We are told that laughter is the best medicine, those old tales from my childhood of: if you play with fire you will pee the bed, swallowing a watermelon seed will grow a watermelon in your belly and the notorious if you don’t stop that your face is going to freeze that way, still bring a smile to my face and now a giggle as we pass them on to our children. The fun and joy that come from these silly, old myths create an entertaining means of a little touch of discipline, twisted with building blocks of family quality time. Sharing these childhood stories with our children strengthens our relationship through laughter and communication. In addition to lightening the burdens that may be preying on our minds creating a slight relief of the worries and stress, that life can bring. It demonstrates to them, that although we are a parental figure, with the task of guiding them in the right direction, we too, can enjoy the silly side of life with them as well.
The Myths We Love To Fear
The myths that bring us fear however, keep us on our toes. These myths ignite awareness and our defense and begins to burn like a tall, scorching, flame. Our understanding of how fragile life, how fragile we, can be, becomes evident to our reality. Through exploration of the the possibility of ghosts, demons and anything else that may come to haunt us, we begin to form our own ideas and opinions. We survey our friends and family on their beliefs. We watch the scary movies. Some may go as far, as to hold their own seances, in hopes of gathering some type of proof, positive that these things either exist or not. Our own dreams turn to nightmares and we begin to see the importance of exercising caution, such as locking our doors and not walking alone down a dark street. We seem to not only be fascinated by these myths that bring us fear but on occasion we like to entertain them for the simple fact of feeling the adrenaline rush this fear can bring.
'Bloody Mary', I recall with a big, embarrassed grin, was one, my childhood friends and I tested. I stood with two other ten year old girls, one on either side, in front of a mirror. The short flame that danced on top of the candle we had grabbed from the hall table was the only light bouncing around that tiny room.
We squished together so we could get a glimpse of the anticipation on all our faces and the hope we all held deep in hearts that this myth was indeed false. We gazed with fear into the mirror, clinging to each other tightly, and began the chant:
Nothing! Where is she, we thought. My friend spoke up with a shaky voice and said, “Well, maybe we need to say it five times.” So again we scrunched back together watching how the flickering candlelight made our own faces appear eerie and unsettling. Part of us we wanted to believe and wanted it to be true, so we could go back to school and tell the tale of our daring feat. Once again we chant with a little more bravery:
The blood, soaked, ghost of a young lady refused to show her face to us. More determined the third time around we shouted with a now humorous desire, that our shrills would travel through the mirror and reach the ear of this poor, departed girl. As we came upon the last call for her, I grabbed both of my friends and screamed, to scare them. It was good that we were standing before the bathroom mirror, ‘wink’. Obviously we dismissed the reality of this myth based on the results of our experiment.
After hearing this tale, my daughter and her friend decided they would test this myth, themselves. Did they want to try this because they knew ‘Bloody Mary’ didn’t show for us therefore giving them a sense of security? In spite of knowing the results of my experiment as a child and the absence of the one they sought to see, their fear was still evident from their shrills escaping the dark bathroom. There are somethings we just have to test out for ourselves. Experience the possibility of ‘what if’ and allow ourselves to fall into the depths of our own imagination.
Myth Or Reality
Desperation for comfort from fear leads us to invent new myths. I recall being young and trying to psych myself out to believe: if something is in my room, all I have to do is get across the room and upon my bed, then it can’t get me, or if I cover my head it can’t see me and will never know I‘m here. Forming our own myths of safety to combat myths of ghosts and the boogey man, gives us a sense of bravery, independence and security all while developing our creativity. Even as adults we may create our own myths of security, such as: If I can find the perfect companion then my life will be complete, or if I can make it on my own, then I will prove I don’t need anyone. Myths play a vital role in our thinking and who we ultimately become. We just need to be aware when our myths begin to become a threat to our true reality and be able to distinguish the difference.