Jul 17, 2015

15 to 15: Joy Meets Anger

So here's the rundown.  Wednesday, April 29, 2015 was exactly 15 weeks until our 15th anniversary.  So in a countdown to the big day, I decided to start a weekly series of anecdotes from our 15 years of marriage.  I am calling it 15 Weeks to 15 Years.  Since everything needs a hashtag, it would be #15to15.  I am utilizing the blog because I have a propensity to yammer a lot when I'm writing and no one would want to read a long status update.  So be looking for these weekly entries.
We recently saw the movie Inside Out.  It was fabulous.  Pixar really outdid themselves on it.  The creativity was spectacular.  The premise is that there is an 11 year old girl named Riley.  Her parents move her cross country to San Francisco.  This entire traumatic experience is mostly related through the emotions in her head: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger.  It is brilliant, moving, hilarious, thought-provoking, and fun.  Heather and I loved it.  The kids loved it.  Great movie. 

So we were shopping with Josiah at Toys R Us the other day and we saw some POP collectable figurines.  I have always thought that those things were cute and fun, but I also don’t have tons of disposable income, so I have managed to avoid collecting them.  They have Inside Out figures now, based on the emotions.  We thought they were really cute.  My favorite character was Anger - duh!  I thought Lewis Black was perfect in that role.  Heather loved the Sadness character, but she asked which one she would be. I said, clearly Joy.  So we got those figurines, and later Sadness because she is cute.

So what happens when Joy marries Anger?

I got into comic books later in life than most people.  They were not allowed in our house growing up.  (As much as I love them, they are not really allowed in our house now either.)  So didn’t get hooked until college.  I saw the Batman movies, watched the X-Men cartoon and Batman Adventures, saw some other random comic heroes that wandered onto the screen like Blade and Spawn.  (This was all before Nolan and Marvel reinvented comic book movies into the amazing spectacle they are today.)  I really liked the X-Men cartoon a lot.  There was a very cool pairing on that show: Rogue and Gambit.  Rogue was a mutant whose power was that she always sucked the power from other people.  She could then use that power for a limited time, unless she did not control it.  Then she could suck all their energy out and kill them.  Gambit’s power was that he could charge items with energy and make them explode (basically).  Rogue and Gambit have had an off-and-on relationship.  Even when they were together, they could never be too close because of the danger of Rogue stealing Gambit’s powers and memories and killing him. But there was one stretch where Rogue was able to touch Gambit because all she would do was absorb his energy and darkness.  There was an unending supply of those things, so it didn’t hurt Gambit.  It actually would help him not be so brooding.  But it made Rogue darker and darker.

When you have two people who are so different - as I have explored in the course of this series of posts - you have a couple of potential outcomes.  You have the Rogue/Gambit scenario, where the lighter one will be colored by the darker one.  You can also have a scenario where the lighter one completely overwhelms the darker one.  Or you can have a scenario where they learn to live in harmony.  Like Yin and Yang.  Or the old couple in Up

We have gone through all three of those scenarios during our fifteen years together.  There have definitely been moments where my darkness has threatened to swallow up Heather’s brightness.  I have seen her growing darker and moodier.  She began to lose that JOY that characterized her in our early years.  That was heartbreaking to me.  I may not have recognized, or minded, that darker tone in myself.  But it was a terrible thing to witness in my wife. Sometimes, it would seem like I could transfer some of my darkness/moodiness/ANGER.  But it was not a good trade off.

There have also been moments where I got lost in the bright light of Heather’s star.  As she has progressed through her medical training, she came even more alive.  More people were able to see the kind of person she was.  And her light burned even brighter.  Early on in that process, I moved deeper and deeper into the shadows.  Some of that was due to situations in life; some of it was self-inflicted.  It became difficult to see everyone flocking to Heather’s light while I lingered in the dark.  Again, it was not a good trade off.

I am glad to say, though, that as we approach our fifteenth year together, we have learned much better how to allow JOY and ANGER to live in harmony.  I still can be fiery and brooding, but I have learned to live much more in the light.  Heather has taken on some darker hues, but they serve to highlight her brightness even more and at times direct it into new powerful avenues.  It is interesting to see how the blending of those colors and emotions has created something quite intriguing.  Personally, I have learned that I was not nearly as dark and ANGRY as I used to characterize myself.  Light being shined into my soul has shown that some of those darker places were just shadows that were chased away.  Pits became places of depth.  Gloom was reimagined as healthy concern.  And ANGER was directed against true injustice, not just irritation. 

Years ago, I remember Dwayne Mercer preaching a sermon at FBC Oviedo.  He was talking about marriage and how it should look with two people becoming one entity. He at first took two grapes and tried to push them together, with the expected disaster happening.  Then he took a lump of yellow Play Doh and a lump of blue. As he was talking, he was pushing those two colors together.  Then he held it up.  In some places, it had become green.  But there were still swirls of yellow and blue throughout.  It was hard to tell where one color ended and the other began.  It was quite a beautiful picture.  That is how our dark and light has meshed as time has moved on.  Heather has adopted more of my sense of humor, my outlook on some things. I have become less moody and less easily ANGERED.  Darker emotions are often labelled as negative, but there is a time and place for those.  I am able to help Heather express those needed down times.  She is able to encourage me to embrace my more lighthearted side. 

The Avett Brothers had a beautiful song a few years ago called “The Ballad of Love and Hate.”  It is obviously an extreme version of what I am talking about.  If you get a chance to listen to it, do it.  It is truly lovely.  I have seen versions of us in the song several times.  And I love how it ends. “You’re mine and that’s it, forever.”

Love writes a letter and sends it to hate.
My vacations ending. I'm coming home late.
The weather was fine and the ocean was great
and I can't wait to see you again.

Hate reads the letter and throws it away.
"No one here cares if you go or you stay.
I barely even noticed that you were away.
I'll see you or I won't, whatever."

Love sings a song as she sails through the sky.
The water looks bluer through her pretty eyes.
And everyone knows it whenever she flies,
and also when she comes down.

Hate keeps his head up and walks through the street.
Every stranger and drifter he greets.
And shakes hands with every loner he meets
with a serious look on his face.

Love arrives safely with suitcase in tow.
Carrying with her the good things we know.
A reason to live and a reason to grow.
To trust. To hope. To care.

Hate sits alone on the hood of his car.
Without much regard to the moon or the stars.
Lazily killing the last of a jar
of the strongest stuff you can drink.

Love takes a taxi, a young man drives.
As soon as he sees her, hope fills his eyes.
But tears follow after, at the end of the ride,
cause he might never see her again.

Hate gets home lucky to still be alive.
He screams o'er the sidewalk and into the drive.
The clock in the kitchen says 2:55,
And the clock in the kitchen is slow.

Love has been waiting, patient and kind.
Just wanting a phone call or some kind of sign,
That the one that she cares for, who's out of his mind,
Will make it back safe to her arms.

Hate stumbles forward and leans in the door.
Weary head hung down, eyes to the floor.
He says "Love, I'm sorry", and she says, "What for?
I'm yours and that's it, Whatever.
I should not have been gone for so long.
I'm yours and that's it, forever."

You're mine and that's it, forever.

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