As Published In Today's Chicago Tribune

October is perhaps the most wondrous month of the year in Illinois. The funeral splendors of raw nature….the bracing bite of morning air…the chatter of children, birds and squirrels readying for winter…and of course the anticipation of what has lately become our second most loved holiday, Halloween.

In our busy-ness this month, we take these as givens. But take the time to give the givens a second look. When you do, you may see something more going on. Especially the different kinds of masks being worn over some often hidden truths out there:

* there’s the mask of autumn itself, whose astonishing glories often hide from view the creeping cold and white impotence of another brutal Midwestern winter; the foot-bally charm of our sweater-weather is secretly prophesying the dark days of our December and January

* there’s also the annual masks of Columbus Day whose festive features honor the exploits of one of history’s greatest change-makers; but one who modern research argues he did not so much discover as he invaded the Americas; so that what was celebration to White Europeans was curse to Red native tribes of this continent to the chained Black gangs of the African continent

* then come the masks of Halloween whose fun and furies lately appear to betray our culture’s increasing fascination with ghouls, vampires, demonics, and death; what has traditionally been a day for children has become a subconscious opportunity for restive adults to allay their fears by playing off those very fears in this annual glut of guises

* finally come the masks which each us wears daily — this month and every other month of the year — whose disguises not only protect our vulnerabilities from others, but which at times may even confuse us into becoming our masks more than ourselves; the sort of transference addressed especially by clergy, psychiatry, and occasionally curious trick-or-treaters

So. Another October is upon us. Merriment, memories and masks alike. Now it’s for us to make the most of it. Before it all disappears into the mystic mists of those autumn leaves we once burned…

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