Thursday, July 28, 2016

Brave New World




"Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly--
they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced."
~Aldous Huxley, Brave New World


Family reunions are peculiar things. 

We pack our suitcases full of clothes and toiletries and insecurities about what other people will think of us. We travel from far and wide on our high horses with our dogmatic beliefs, our judgmentalism, and the hefty planks in each of our eyes. We haul our heavy baggage in from the car and we unpack the broken pieces of ourselves. We shake hands and hug necks and kiss cheeks and attempt to present the very best versions of our lives. 

Or, if we are courageous enough, we don't do any of those things.

We drop all that dead weight on the front porch and we step over the threshold into a brave new world. A world where, like Huxley's John the Savage, we have the right to be unhappy. Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent. We have the right to be overweight and have cancer and depression. The right to be lousy. To not live up to expectations. To have failed marriages and unruly children. To be unemployed and unsuccessful. To live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow. To be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind (chapter 17, Brave New World).

I just returned from my own family reunion. 

As people showed up, I saw them scrape off dogma like mud on a doormat. I watched them shake off presumptions like water droplets off an umbrella and shed condemnation like slick and shiny raincoats at the front door. I witnessed people putting down the stones they intended to throw. Those who came armed with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune cast them down in a heaping pile on the floor. I saw insecurities melt away under the warm glow of acceptance like popsicles in the late afternoon sun. 

There are so many things I loved about this brave new world.

The walk to remember with my little brother where the waves washed away our grown-up footprints and carried our secret words out to sea. The sleepover with my big sister when we stayed up way too late whispering our biggest fears and failures into the dark. Holding each other while our little girl-selves mourned the loss of their great expectations for our big girl lives. Wearing glow stick necklaces and eating cupcakes by the ocean at midnight. Watching my nieces and nephews hunt for sand crabs with flashlights while we sisters shared our deepest, darkest secrets with just each other and the night. Sitting in my dad's lap and seeing him come alive as we sang an oldie but a goodie, both of us knowing full-well this could be the last time we ever harmonize together this side of heaven. Watching my mom cry happy tears at the sight of him being his old self again.

Here, we see the beauty in being broken. 

Here, our jagged edges seem to fit together when we stand side by side with one another. When we stand in the gap for one another. When we take arms against a sea of troubles with one another. When we stand inbetween our ex-spouse and our new one. Inbetween our mom and dad and our step-parents. When we stand next to those we don't agree with. Next to those who have hurt us in the past. Next to those who have broken their promises to us. Here, we have the right to forgive and to forget. To let it be water under the bridge. To stand together proudly and courageously and to do it on purpose. To boldly declare that this is what family looks like, for better or for worse

THIS is what love looks like in a brave new world.






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