Monday, October 22, 2012

Wonder Woman's Nephews are Jedi Knights

I'm in San Francisco, visiting my sister and my three nephews. It is the youngest's 4th birthday--he's turning 4. He's not 3 anymore. But he can't wait to be 5.

He's obsessed with BeyBlade, which says 8+ on the box, but he has two older brothers and doesn't want to play with baby games. It's this wind-up contraption where you insert a "key" that looks like a zip-tie with teeth into a piece of plastic and then attach what is essentially a glorified top. You wind the top a few times, pull the zip-tie key, and release it into a plastic stadium. If you were actually 8+ then you would play with a friend and battle your tops in the stadium, the last one left spinning being named the winner.

But he's just turned 4, so the appeal is in making the top spin really fast and light up. He instructs me that you must turn the top 3 times. I told him that since he's 4 now he should turn the top 4 times.

"And when I'm 5 I'll turn it 5 times! And when I'm 10 I'll turn it 10 times! I'm going to have this toy forever."

What is forever to a 4 year old? Probably the time between realizing that you're hungry and getting a snack. Forever to me? A little more complex.

After my meditation retreat, I decided to see my family more. I have a sister and 3 nephews in San Francisco, a sister in Sacramento, and parents in Chicago. Being Seattle-based, that makes seeing them complicated--but certainly not impossible. I'm seeing one sister now, just saw the other when she came to see my show at the Seattle Fringe, and I booked a trip to be in Chicago for a whole week over Christmas (the first time I've been back for the holidays in 5 years). I want to be a good sister, a good aunt, a good daughter. Because I know that people aren't around forever.

When did that realization come? I'm not sure. It's something that I've accepted over time, kinda like the knowledge that Santa Claus wasn't real: it wasn't some earth-shattering, childhood-innocence-smashing event. (I realize this is not the case for all, and I apologize if reading this blog just served as the medium for that experience.) I do know it now, though, and despite the fact that humans are blessed with the ability to forget their own and others' mortality for the majority of their waking hours, it does affect my encounters. Not to say that I spend my days fatalistically thinking that every interaction with my people may be the last--but it's just that every interaction with my people may be the last.

So I'm trying to make it count. Is every moment a Kodak moment? No. Have I taken a page from 12 step programs and gone back to apologize for all real (or perceived) wrongs? No. Do I conduct myself in a way that ensures that those around me right here and now know exactly how much they are loved? Yes.

Or at least I try. I know--Yoda says there is no try. Maybe I say I try because I'm sure there are times I fail. But I do my best to love.

Why? Because I've been on the receiving end. I know what it's like to be in the pitch black and have a familiar voice call my name and tell me it's okay, I can't see you but I am looking for you...and I'm going to find you no matter what, even if it takes forever.

Maybe that's it. Maybe for me forever is the time between feeling I'm lost and remembering I am sought out, I am missed, I am loved. So it varies, mimicking the human experience: some of our forevers are 37 years, some are 37 seconds. What matters is what fills that time.

In this moment I am filling my time playing with $1 glow swords from Target. Their glow may not last forever...but their short lives are filled with light.
My Jedi Knight Nephews!

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