Halloween season has come upon us, and the ghouls are out to play.
This celebrated holiday gives people a chance to completely express individuality. The young are able to be themselves without pause and the old are able to be their youthful selves again.
I witnessed all of this and more at Knoxville Boo! at the Zoo Friday night.
For those who don't know, Knoxville Boo! at the Zoo is a local Halloween tradition dating back to 1986. The family event offers children plenty of activities and trick-or-treating.
Upon my arrival, I made an immediate beeline for the costumes. The crowded room was filled with clothing of all sorts, but I made sure to secure my spot in line and not be left in the cold without a costume.
All of the volunteers greeted the kids and babies swaddled up in bundles of blankets and jackets.
After an unsatisfied fitting with a female genie costume, I settled on dressing as the Aladdin's male genie.
As I put on the golden robe and jacket that was laced with intricate detailing, I felt my childhood rushing back to me. The large turban helped me get into the spirit as well.
Every trip around my neighborhood screaming "trick-or-treat" to various homes that were gracious enough to leave a light on came back to memory.
I realized as I had gone off to my college career and started on my hot pursuit of being an adult, I had quickly forgotten the fun times Halloween offers.
The giddiness of the passing children was absolutely infectious. Their shouts of "Happy Halloween" immediately incited a response from me. I couldn't help but smile back, and enjoyed myself as much as I could in the freezing weather.
The wonder in their eyes as they saw Disney characters come to life increased my appreciation for childlike imagination. It's something that declines as we get older and become bogged down with our everyday activities.
But it is the little things that make us happy and give us enjoyment that leaves us more satisfied in the long term.
I'm usually a person that sticks to the rules. Something about the spirit in the zoo that evening, however, had me throwing caution to the wind – or in this case, camels.
Our volunteer overseer warned me and my Jasmine-costumed counterpart to follow one rule: do not, by any means, ride the camels.
I thought, "Fine, no problem, I never truly aspired to ride a camel."
As the cold night continued, a thought began to emerge. Kids whose parents were not letting them ride begged desperately to do so. Other kids whose parents encouraged them to ride and, in fact, nearly pleaded with their children, promptly retorted a simple no.
The least I could do was get a picture on the camel for all the kids who weren't allowed to ride the thing. After all I was dressed sufficiently for the part already.
While asking for the photo-op, I was soon ushered onto the camel's back and I didn't think three times about the consequences.
Of course, I was questioned by the employee who had told me not to, but I decided to do it anyways.
Many lessons can be taken from this experience. One in particular is the courage to be yourself and not always be so tied up with the immediate consequences of your actions.
Of course take into account things that will cause harm, but also take a moment to enjoy life's moments as they are happening. You just might find the results are instantaneously gratifying.
I knew one thing for sure after I left the zoo that night: My childhood was back in time for Halloween and I couldn't wait to see the consequences.
Rebecca Butcher is a junior in journalism & electronic media. She can be reached at email@example.com.