Jun 24 2014

Paul Williams



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Fear, Humor, Letting Go




I love movies.  Almost any genre except one.  Slasher films. I tend to avoid realistic horror on the silver screen.  I’m a scaredy cat.  Life long member of the “duck down behind the seat in front of you, cover your eyes and wait till the audience stops screaming before you return to an upright position in your seat” club.  It’s a club that needs a shorter name.

I am, however, a sucker for a good ghost story. There’s a special kind of joyful terror I remember feeling when hearing my older brother Jack’s bone chilling words,  “The spirit of the murdered man always appears on rainy summer nights… just like tonight, Paulie.”   His Dracula imitation and ghoulish laugh made me dive under the covers.

These days I get my friendly fear from late night radio.  One night last week I heard a lovely tale about a prince, or a Duke who’d been told by a fortuneteller that within the year he’d be dead.   He’d die the victim of snakebite.  However, if he made it past the one-year mark he’d live a long and happy life.

For the entire year the Duke never left his bedroom.  His self imposed incarceration would keep him in the safety of his private quarters in the castle until the year had past.  He’d take no chances with the great outdoors or environments he couldn’t control.  No last gasp if there is no asp!  He’d outsmart Mr. Slinky.

The last night of the year his manservant brought him a large meal with some fine local wine. He also brought some firewood in to build a fire in his master’s bedroom fireplace so his last night of confinement would be as comfortable as possible.

Well, of course there was a snake in the firewood. The wine did it’s trance inducing trick and the Duke of Disaster met his end when the snake made it’s way into his bed and bit him on the..   Well, I don’t know where it bit him.  But, as the story goes he died convinced he’d beaten the odds and outsmarted the gods.

I think he created his fate.   I know, I know….  It’s just a story.  But stories, tales and myths are magical teaching devices.  Ask Joseph Campbell.  Well, it’s a little late to ask him.  But, if you think about it, this is a tale with a big, big lesson for us all.

What better way to manifest a dark and dreary destiny than to spend an entire year of your life dwelling on that specific disastrous scenario?  It’s the ragged reward of fear-based thinking.   Spend your days and nights thinking about almost anything and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll bring it about.  Good or bad. Just my opinion but I believe.  Which makes it real for me.

Our thoughts are like prayers.  If the story is true, if it happened, I believe the Duke demanded his demise.  What we dwell on we create.  As a man thinketh in his heart

For me, it’s reason enough to avoid slasher movies or anything that has a profound negative effect on my psyche.  I avoid thinking too long about things I don’t want to happen. Why co-create calamity? If my attention implies my intension I’ll opt for something sweeter. My “minimize the morbid,” mentality may get me laughed at but, it won’t get shot or me stabbed.

I’m sorry. You thought this was going to be a blog about ghost stories didn’t you?  It’s not.  It’s about having a real solid sense of your own power.   Your ability to manufacture either marvelous or miserable.   No, I can’t prove it but I believe we create our outer reality with our inner thought.  And the thoughts of those around you can be powerful, so surround yourself with people that want the best for you.

The ghost stories my brother told were delivered in a framework of family safety and brotherly love.   I could enjoy them because I knew he would never let anyone or anything hurt me.  Or I him. Whenever and wherever we can enrich our lives with solid, supportive and constructive relationships the better our chances are for creating the life we deserve.

So enjoy that roller coaster or favorite wild ride at the amusement park of your choice where you know you’re safe. But, if there’s some shadowy activity that has a negative effect on your sleep, appetite or general sense of well-being, avoid it.  If there’s something that crawls into a special place in your psyche as unsettling or disturbing beyond your level of understanding, share it with your therapist but don’t give it a position of power by paying constant attention.

Deal with the dark by throwing a little healing light on it.  Then, turn your thoughts to the good and sweet pieces of your life that you wish to expand and build on.  You’ll construct a better tale, your best story ever by returning again and again to the healthier pages written in the spirit of gratitude and trust.



Paul Williams

Paul Williams is a singer, songwriter, actor, recovery advocate and has been a fixture on the American cultural scene since the seventies. His book Gratitude and Trust is now available.