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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Season Finales

I have a confession to make.  I didn’t watch popular TV for a couple of decades, but then I did again.

Why do we invest our time in fictional narratives?  Perhaps the reasons are as diverse as the number of us who exist and continue to circle around the sun.  My honest answer is that there was this moment when I said to myself, “I need to sit down and binge watch something that has characters with more complicated lives than mine.” 

I chose Grey’s Anatomy.  If I legitimately wanted characters with ridiculously complex lives, I struck gold.  I watched 12 seasons in three months.  That’s 269 episodes.  I have yet to decide if I am proud of this or irrevocably ashamed.  After years upon years of being an entertainment media purist, I felt like I was flipping off the world, rebel me, watching all that off screen sex… and blood related to medical procedures… and bad language…   I was angry.  But this was three years ago.

Most days, I don’t wake up angry anymore.  Honestly, most days I wake up super exhausted and hope somebody has hit the power button on the Keurig, as I grapple for my glasses and consider how I can best balance the writing of children’s sermons and academic papers… being mom in sweatpants and jet-setting in business suits… being who I am and who I hope to be… and most days, I’m fairly amazed that I have the opportunity.

But I’m thinking a lot about season finales, right now, because it’s that time of year (and one does not surrender thirteen full days of one’s life to follow characters and then fail to turn the final page…  it can’t go on forever, right?).  I’m thinking about how season finales have the power to bring us to tears or even make us throw things (that might just be me).  I’m thinking about how they are almost always cliffhangers, keeping us on the edge of our seats, causing us to set the DVR for fall… watching… waiting…  And, I’m thinking about how I am living a season finale, right now.

Some finales are more epic than others.  Undoubtedly, the most difficult ones are those in which we say good-bye to beloved characters.  If you know anything at all about living in Shondaland, you also know she is more than willing to kill off major characters… like… all of them, without apology…   Equally tragic, however, are the characters that choose to leave, and it really plays with our emotions when these characters make guest appearances, showing up on the scene again… 

Honestly, this can feel a lot like real life…  “Oh crap, there you are…  I forgot you weren’t dead…”

It sounds brutal, but I think it hurts more when people decide we aren’t worth their time or walk away to protect their own interests, leaving ours in a heap of disarray that can, at best, be gathered and sorted and sobbed over, but that, at worst, is so damaged it can never be fixed… or even properly dealt with or grieved.

I mean, come on…  How can you actually grieve something to its end when there are constant (or even intermittent, see: I’m really not angry every day) reminders that it could still exist, if every star aligned just right?  Even if you don’t want that to be the case, there can still be too many “what ifs” and “if onlys” to permanently put it to rest.

There have occasionally been times in my life when I have uttered the words, “I would give anything for…”

It’s actually a really dumb thing to say, because there are few things in the world that any of us would actually give anything… let alone everything… for.  But stay with me.  This is all going to connect.  The mending of broken relationship might come closest, with just not hurting over broken relationship taking a tight second.

As I’ve processed (and, admittedly, maybe even over-processed) some things along these lines, I have run across a couple of well-meaning friends who have suggested the potential for reframing the stories and changing the narratives we tell.  Apparently, this works well for many people… alleviates anxiety… minimizes triggers… results in a happy ending…  But I just can’t buy it!

Proverbs 4: 7, 13, 25-27a, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding…  Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you… Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left…”

I think I’d rather feel it.  I think someday it will hurt less, because it already hurts less often, but I do not want to forget (I’ve heard that might be my problem).  I think I’d rather cry forever, but I also know I’m not crying nearly as much.   I think revisionist history is dangerous, because although it may allow us to forget the tragedy, it also causes us to forget the joy. 

And… see Psalm 6:8-9, “for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.” 

I’m just not willing to wipe that out.

Is it easy?  Yeah.  Some days it is.  Is it difficult?  Ditto.  Is it unbearable?  Yep, at times, that too.  Welcome back to ordinary days...  Welcome back to what it is to be human.  And just in case you didn’t catch it, this is also a cliff hanger…  Stay tuned in to find out which characters make this cut…


PS Don’t even get me started on series finales...

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