Tuesday, November 13, 2012

if vampires can shine, why can't i

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Quick, who said this:

After eighteen years of being utterly ordinary, I finally found that I can shine.

Unless you live under a rock, you probably guessed it's Bella of "Twilight" fame, the awkward girl who finally gets her shiny wish. The last movie in the series is coming out this week, so there are Bella quotes and pictures everywhere.

As a previous rock dweller, I will admit I had not seen any of the movies until recently, when my 10 year old requested a Twilight movie-thon. I am now sufficiently caught up. Forever.

Ok, so I wasn't blown away, but I wasn't disappointed either. I hear the books were better, but the movies were well made, fun and surprisingly wholesome for monster movies. It was refreshing to find love, romance and commitment still have some value in the age of hook-ups.

And who knew vampire dwellings could be so posh and artful and filled with light? Totally jealous.

So, back to Bella. Before meeting Edward, Bella felt like a misfit - different, displaced, an outsider. The possibility was within her to shine the whole time. Other people saw it in her, but she didn't. It took an outside force - the love of someone totally unexpected - to awaken her to the possibility of a different life. In the process, she discovered value in herself. She had things to offer Edward (ok, and Jacob) that were never thought possible. Being open to the possibilities changed everyone around them.

And so it goes in our own lives. There are people and situations we encounter in life that challenge us, enhance us, transform us. Whether knowingly or unaware, they serve as a catalyst to forever change our outlook, our perceptions, our locations, and even our character DNA. Our hope in life is that we can impact at least one other person in such a significant way for the better.

Those who touch us and those we touch are not necessarily one in the same. When they are, magic happens. Not Hollywood magic, but ancient magic, deep and strong. The kind that pushes us out of the armchair and catapults us into the unknown.

Sometimes we fly together. When that happens, it takes our breath away. It awes us that someone can care that much about us, is willing to invest in us, and wants to walk beside us. Even when it is messy and inconvenient. Maybe especially then.

Other times the catalyst sees us off and becomes a memory instead of a companion. Some catalysts serve a purpose and are meant to be left behind peacefully in the past. Maybe it was a nice experience. Maybe it was a devastation. Either way, it opened a door, a window, a portal, or shoved us out of the way and onto another road. One that made all the difference.

When we mix the two up, we can stall. Sometimes we try to drag people or things or scenarios forward with us instead of leaving them in their proper place and perspective. The "what ifs" haunt us and taint our present. While we would not be in our present state without them, it is often difficult to leave the past behind.

An old Roman poet named Catullus (whose name sounds delightfully like 'catalyst') described it as an inability to "put away a long love".  Even when that "love" is something pretty ugly, there is comfort in its familiarity. The whole "devil you know..." conundrum. It's hard to let go of that devil when you think it's the last secure thing you'll ever have.

Ironically, letting something in the past hold us back - whether regret or guilt or longing or even something that was good - can keep us from living into the fullness of what is before us. Even worse, it can keep us from having hope.

In Bella-speak, that drags us back into being utterly ordinary and keeps us from shining. In country-speak, it keeps us in a rut, which is just a grave with both ends knocked out.

Not even vampires live in graves these days. Don't know about you, but I'd much rather be in the posh glass house on the hill, even if it's just metaphorically speaking.

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