A monster moved into our family home somewhere between my sixth and seventh birthdays. It took up residence at the top of the stairs.
Prior to its arrival I’d climb the stairs to my bedroom with the carefree attitude you’d expect of a child. But after the monster installed itself the task of getting to my bedroom was a very different matter.
I had an inkling that I might be making the monster up because neither of my sisters mentioned it. But I put that down to them not wanting to admit that they were afraid too. Which only bolstered my belief that the monster was real.
The monster turned out to be nocturnal. The word ‘nocturnal’ was a new addition to my vocabulary but my bones instinctively felt the monsters ominous presence when I climbed the stairs after dark.
The thing to do, of course, to vanquish a nocturnal-top-of the-stairs-monster is to turn on the stairwell light. But that logical action would have put a swift end to a perfectly plausible scary monster story. So let’s continue…
Uncharacteristic of my shy nature I decided to play the precarious yet thrilling game of catch-me-if-you-can.
The rules went like this; I was to start up the stairs with as much swagger that I could muster. This would convey that I was not in the least bit afraid. If I got all the way to my bedroom without breaking a sweat the monster was not allowed to grab me.
If, however, I showed the slightest quiver the monster could monster-maul me unless I ran fast enough to shimmy past it’s portly belly to reach my out-of-bounds-to-monsters bedroom.
I’m breaking a sweat just thinking about it.
Spectacularly, and to this day something I’m proud of, I somehow always managed to scramble past the monster to avoid being annihilated. Then not long after my seventh birthday the monster moved out as quietly as it had moved in.
Warning: if you still believe in scary monsters now’s the time to stop reading.
It seems to me that all scary monster stories should contain an important lesson. This is what I gleaned…..
By daring myself to encounter the monster I had an early insight about the power of thought.
How our thinking – when we believe it – powers up our emotional and sensory systems to create a multi-dimensional experience that looks and feels real.
I believed my thinking that monsters were scary so my emotional and bodily systems did what they are beautifully designed to do. They amplified my scary thinking to create a feeling of fear, a racing heart and a churning stomach.
It looked and felt as thought the monster was the cause of my fear. Until the day came when it no longer made sense to believe in scary-monsters-at-the-top-of-stairs.
At that moment my scary-monster-thoughts stopped holding my attention. Which dried up the fuel to my emotional and bodily systems. So I no longer felt fear and dread even when monsters came up in conversation.
At that age I didn’t fully grasp the implications of my insight that feelings are the outcome of thoughts. Because as soon as my scary-monster thoughts lost my attention new and different scary thinking about the world, people and life appeared to look real and the cause of how I felt.
It took another decade or three before I woke up to the fact that thought is a movement of formless spiritual energy capable of taking the shape of infinite story lines brought to life by our sensory and perceptual systems. Creating an ever changing and infinitely varied experience of life providing we don’t get too fixed in our thinking.
On my off days it still seems to me that monsters really do exist causing upset and distress. But sooner rather than later I recognize the thought-created nature of my experience. Which brings clarity and a fresh perspective and, best of all, a deeper appreciation for the power of thought and the energy behind Life that powers the whole gig.
As for those scary stairwell climbs. To be honest, they were a ton of fun and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.