I’m fairly convinced that I was a sailor in a recent past life*. Or maybe I was married to a sailor and lived in the harbor, oft looking out to sea, waiting for my love’s return and never finding it; that one seems more likely. In any case, I love buoy bells – their rhythmic gong resonates into the depths of my being, soothing my heart, and reminding me of home. I even love anything that reminds me of buoy bells – the clang of a chain on the neighbor’s gate on breezy days, or the hushed gong of the clapper nudging just that one column on the large wind chimes my mom gave me. And I’m telling you, my heart is somewhere out there in that lake. When I stand at the water’s edge, I can almost feel it settling into my chest where it belongs. I feel like I’ll see it on the horizon at any moment.
Then again, I detest beach/seaside themed home decor. So maybe not.
I’m equally convinced that in a much, much more distant life, I was a warrior in either Japan or China – somewhere in a forested, mountainous area. I had a wife, kids, and a small restaurant. I toy with this notion based on dreams that I would have. I’m not all that into anime, and came up with it long before watching anime.
*I don’t actually believe in either reincarnation or preexistence. At all. I’m using it as an expressive figure of speech and a means to play around with imagination.
(Spoiler alert for Pixar’s Brave)
Although I generally have a mild distaste for fanfic, I do sometimes like to pretend that certain imaginations of my own are, in fact, part of a story’s canon. And I mean, really, who doesn’t do that?!
MULAN: This one is not my own, but I still like it. Since Disney offers no explanation – official or unofficial – for why The Great Stone Dragon didn’t wake up when Mushu rang the gong, it’s up to the fans on the internet to decide what makes the most sense. Of these, my personal favorite is that Mulan herself is The Great Stone Dragon already set in place to save the Fa family. Her spirit had already woken within her when she was sitting under the Dragon’s statue just before she made the decision to leave.
BRAVE: Although the film ends with Merida single and her suitors free to “win her heart before they win her hand,” she still has to pick between one of the three suitors that were presented to her. As a little refresher: MacIntosh is the handsome ass, MacGuffin is the burly shy lad who speaks only Doric, and Dingwall is the scrawny “wee lamb.” I like to pretend that Merida and MacGuffin initially take interest in each other, but her fiery spirit is too much for him and he can’t stand her. She eventually ends up with Dingwall because they find a mutual love for nature and adventuring (as could be drawn from the extra short film about Mordu) and his calm demeanor is a steady rock against the tempest of Merida’s emotions. And as it turns out, he actually is an OK archer (as is briefly shown in the scene in which the clans are scrapping and Merida strolls in like she’s the queen and brings them to peace) and I pretend that they bond over her helping him hone these skills. She’s put off by his wimpy build, but eventually grows beyond that and learns to appreciate him for his endearing qualities. It was after I made this extra storyline up that I learned that there is unofficial word from Pixar on what her choice would be. According to MacGuffin’s voice actor, she was going to announce MacGuffin as her choice until her mom signaled her to “break tradition.” MacGuffin was supposedly interested in her as well. There’s also a deleted scene in which she’s interested in him, but gets frustrated that she can’t understand him.
There are a lot of articles out there about what to expect when raising your children. They talk about the bitter, the sweet, and the salty, giving advice to the generation that is now loaded with young parents – my generation. But all of this advice is almost always just an excuse for one parent – who happens to be a published writer – to chew over their own days of yore and talk about their own time with their little one now grown.
I do take a rather sentimental interest in those cheesy articles – comfort food for a mom’s heart. I find that I’m especially interested in the ones written by mothers about their daughters (as opposed to their sons). I don’t know why this is, considering that I have spawned both genders and take equal interest in each of them. Maybe it’s because I myself am female. Whatever the reason, it’s true.
Here’s the thing (and the point of this post): these articles are written through the lens of the reader as the mother thinking about her daughter. And as a parent, you often think about how “one of these days, you’ll understand!” But will they? Or will they simply have their own children with which they have their own sentiments, never really imagining how their own mother felt about them? I wonder how often the reader sees the article through the lens of themselves as the daughter, recognizing and appreciating the previously unnoticed background work, thoughts, and feelings of their own mothers toward themselves.
Mom, since I know that you’re one of my five(ish) readers, I’ll let you know here that I think of you a lot – both as I read mushy articles about parenting and as I raise my own daughter. I understand a lot more now. I do appreciate it. Thanks.
When we were in elementary school, we learned about Thomas Edison and the light bulb. That was pretty cool.
Then as adults – probably thanks to the internet – we learned that Thomas Edison was a big jerk, thief, and con artist. We then learn to admonish the exploited genius Nikola Tesla. Oh how Edison ripped him off for the practicality of the modern light bulb!
Or did he? I got to wondering about this myself as I summoned light with the flick of my forefinger. It started as, “Even if Tesla invented it, could he have sold it? Popularized it? Delivered it to the world?” It then quickly evolved into, “What did Edison steal from Tesla? When? What happened, exactly? In exactly what way did he steal from him? Even if he did, how exactly did he prevent Tesla from succeeding?” Side note: I’m learning that the minute you ask specific questions about the details of notions – especially emotionally charged notions, they are most frequently dispelled entirely. Ask questions. Always ask for details to tales and you’ll quickly learn just how tall they are.
So you then learn to poke around for the details. You find things like this article: http://geekhistory.com/content/nikola-tesla-versus-thomas-edison-and-search-truth and others like it.
Anyway, the short answer is: he didn’t. Edison didn’t steal the light bulb (or likely anything else) from Tesla, and Tesla was still an extremely successful inventor. Not only that, but Tesla himself was a big jerk and con artist.
In the end, here in this world of jerks and con artists, I’m just glad to have easy access to electricity at all.
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my childhood and reevaluating those past relationships through the lens of adulthood. The closest inspection has been on the adults of that time.
The adults that I respected and loved the most – the ones whose voices still echo in my mind – were the ones who took the time to talk with me about the deep things that mattered. They were the ones who took the time to learn what mattered most to me and explore them with me. But that means that there was an abundance of time in between in which we talked about a whole lot of nothing.
“I hate chit chat,” is something that I hear often – especially if you include the number of times I’ve said it in my own head. And it’s true that chatting can wear me down very quickly. But despite what we think, I’d wager that no healthy person actually hates it. The people who say that are most often the ones who cherish deep conversation and connection. Chatting is necessary for that – it’s the surface layer that you must dig through in order to hit that wellspring. It’s the slow, churning river by which deep ravines are cut.
“So it’s a necessary evil?” Yes, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s valuable in and of itself as well. I’ve learned to value chatting because I value the person that I’m with. It doesn’t matter much what we’re talking about; what matters is that we’re spending time together. Simply, it isn’t the what, it’s the who! Once you realize that and learn to value it, it makes the whole thing much easier – even enjoyable!
I used to think I hated chatting, but I don’t anymore. I don’t think I ever really did hate it; it was just exhausting, that’s all. You probably don’t hate chit chat; you just love deeper connections.
Hindsight is 20/20. Sometimes our harshest critics are the future versions of ourselves.
I recall a woman being heavily berated online for her folly of bringing her child to see Deadpool in theaters and then expressing her disappointment in having to leave. People came down on her pretty hard for having not already known what to expect. “It was rated R,” someone pointed out. “It was easily searchable; who goes into a movie without researching first?!” But let’s be real here: an R rating means very little. And who DOES research movies before they go?! Up until Deadpool, no one really had much reason to do heavy digging into super hero films; the precedent had already been set. Deadpool was the first of its kind, but the basic TV commercials didn’t do much to distinguish it from Spiderman or anything else. I thought it was a bit unfair of them to laugh at her for tripping while paving the way. They were casting judgement upon her based on information that was given AFTER she made the mistake.
Changing gears here…I’ve never been much of a worrier or struggled with self depreciation. However, parenting has added into my life colorful flares of both. I find that with all the criticisms that come pouring off my back from the rest of the world, the most difficult ones to slough off are my own. It’s easy to look at what I do wrong and cringe over my own mistakes and worry about the consequences that my children will face for them. But I need to recognize that – while it is important to remember and learn from our mistakes – I’m doing the best I can with what I have at any given time. It’s unfair for me to cast judgement upon my former selves for not having capacities that I do now (every time “now” comes around).
“Never change!” is terrible advice. I look at who I was in high school and think, “Wow, I was stupid.” I look at who I was five years ago and think, “Wow, I was stupid.” A few years from now, I hope I look at my current self and think, “Wow, I was stupid then too.” My point is not that I’m always stupid, or that we should constantly be knocking ourselves. Rather, that I’m always growing, always changing. A more mature version of myself can see the foolishness of the less mature versions of myself and appreciate the growth that I’ve been gone through.
I look at where I am now and I’m happy with my progress in life. I’m glad for some of the ways in which I’ve changed and grown. One of those ways is the practice of guiding others to their conclusions by asking them questions and discovering the answers with them – together. I’ve always wanted to be able to do that. I have known quite a few people who were really good at it, and I’ve always admired that.
I’m glad to look back at my life and see that I’ve changed, grown, learned, matured. May that never stop.