Two-bit Guru | Imaginary Ghosts | Person in a sheet dressed up as a ghost.

Maybe the Halloween season brought this thought to me: I carried around imaginary ghosts in my head for a long time. You might have some in your head, too. My ghosts remind me that the way I’m doing something isn’t the way my cousin Hans would have done it. If I was able to share a recent imaginative thought with my high school friend Eddie he would surely sneer at me and shoot it down. If I could tell my Dad about my more far-out ideas, he would probably shake his head and walk away.

If we were to compile a list of all these persistent ghosts in our heads, planted there from early childhood on, we would probably understand why sometimes we lack confidence in what we do, lose the oomph to realize our dreams, and sometimes have yucky feelings inside that are not alleviated by pastimes like watching football games on Sunday afternoon.

Undoubtedly, we need some rules to guide us in our interactions with other people, unless we plan on becoming dedicated hermits. The directives we received as kids are what have helped make us responsible citizens and caring friends. But it is my belief that human cultures worldwide have gone way overboard in lavishing restrictive inform-ation, or in-Formation, on their children. Our creativity has been severely curtailed.

For me, one natural, healthy reaction against all these rules, procedures, proper behaviors, stuffy bureaucrats, stern school teachers, and all the Others, has been laughter. There are few people who don’t like a good joke that shoots down an authority figure, or makes fun of what the Rulemakers regard as required behavior on the part of the citizenry. It’s not difficult to imagine that this is where comedians come from.

A few decades ago I came to the understanding that my life had been, and continues to be, a process of ever-growing creativity. Coming from a restrictive small town background where one was expected to fear that God might mess you up good if you didn’t behave, that imaginative thoughts were “crazy” (and not crazy in a good way), and that an important task in life was to judge everyone else for their lack of conformity to the norms, I’m quite pleased with my progress.

Fear-driven small minds will strive to squelch whatever is different, even though what is different belongs in our world just as much as what is the same. It’s about balance, and accepting, and understanding. It could be that what comes out of our creativity in these chaotic times will prove to be far more beneficial than enforced conformity.