When my son was five years old, my husband (at the time) and I took him to see his very first movie in the theater. It was 'Clifford, The Big Red Dog." We had prescreened it first, because that was what we did as first time parents and all seemed good. We raised our son without any media, believing in the harmful effects of exposure at such an early age. We had no TV, as to not desensitize him to the rough world depicted on the nightly news. We wanted our child to see things with fresh eyes, to be innocent as long as possible and to have a peaceful, magical filled childhood.
I majored in child development. I knew exactly what I was doing (as she clears her throat and mumbles under her breath ten years later). As it turns out, Clifford was fine. What I didn't count on, were the previews before the movie...specifically, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Ugh. The minute one of the turtles slugged another, Parker was under his blanket, wanting to head home. Yea for not being eh...desensitized. Flash forward...a decade later.
Thursday nights is 'do your own thing' night in our household.. At 7 o'clock, the kids each get to pick out their own movie to watch. On their own. It is a real treat, because the other evenings are filled with family game playing, campfires, evening walks, reading or documentary movies. (Although sometimes a superhero movie is thrown in there, like The Flash or The Arrow, because, well, we like them and my son is long over being sensitive to on screen fighting by superheroes or...eh...turtles. Anyway, on these 'do your own thing' nights, my children are pretty predictable. My 14 year old goes to youtube for cartoons or videos on computer coding. My 12 year old either picks documentaries on interesting, never-heard-of-before diseases like children who age really fast (it is called progeria) or she scans Netflix for any PG-13 horror films she hasn't seen yet. And my six year old? Well, My Little Pony, of course.
And then there is me. I am the wild card of the family. I am not a big fan of watching movies by myself, but feel a bit obligated to find something. Last night, it was 'Survivor'. It is in it's 31st season (I still remember watching the first one), so you probably have already heard of it. But in case you haven't, it is a reality show about a group of folks put on an island with minimal provisions for a month or so. During this time, they have real or fabricated challenges that could get them voted off of the island a few times a week. If your physical, social and mental game is good enough, you could make it to the end, where a big monetary prize awaits you.
So, as I am watching this show, one of the ladies on it is doing a swimming challenge in the sea and starts to struggle. I notice a familar lump in my throat, my heart sinks a little and tears well up in my eyes. Within a few moments I am sobbing. Over Survivor. Over someone I haven't met.
It reminded me of last week when I was drinking my coffee out on the porch, watching my cows. The herd was happily chewing grass down by the creek. And then there was Cream, the outcast...still by the barn. It made me sad to see that she wasn't being included and the bigger cows were being somewhat mean to her by leaving her out (this, of course, is the story I was writing in my mind and, quite possibly, had nothing to do with the reality of the situation). Cue lump in throat, sinking heart, and tears.
Or when I was in the co-op two weeks ago reading a book, only to look up at this couple gazing into one another's eyes. Me, briefly catching them in a genuine, truly loving moment. Hello lump.
Yes, that is me. The girl that can slaughter 50 chickens in one day with my own two hands, crying over a tree my friend planted last spring because it is growing so beautifully (thanks Tom).
Me, who wrestles sheep and castrates baby calves, getting choked up because the fog in this valley is so damn magical.
This girl, who chops wood and hauls water, sobbing over having a picnic in the woods, under some beautiful pine trees on our land.
I well up at the co-op if someone is uncharacteristically friendly to me. I sob when I am having tea with an old friend, because I love connections with others. I get teary eyed when I get a compliment...and watch out if the other person gets teary eyed, too. There's no stopping me then.
Am I depressed? Nah... I am just an appropriately sensitive girl. And even though I was raised amongst family members where teasing was a way of life or lived by the motto that you should be able to say anything to family, I came out on the otherside. I am not raw, but instead a feeling, loving girl. And I am ok with that.
Actually better than ok. It makes me know that, despite living somewhat isolated in the countryside, I am still connected to people. In fact, I am deeply moved by them.
It gives me a quick view into those I love, feeling when they are sad without having to see that they are sad. I have a deep sense of compassion for those sharing this journey with me.
It makes me know that the three year long abusive relationship I was in a few years back, didn't do as much lasting damage as I thought. In fact, it made me feel more.
I get to feel the good, the gratitude so deeply. Like a rain shower covering my whole existence. I am beyond lucky.
It makes me know that I am human. That I feel. And I feel a lot.
And I am guessing we could all use a little bit more feeling in our lives. A little more compassion for others and their circumstances. A little more gratitude for the little mundane things in our lives. A little more kindness. A little more forgiveness.
Maybe even within ourselves.