David Tennant and Saying Goodbye

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Photo by marc thiele on Flickr’s creative commons

Ten years ago, I thought it would mean everything to see my favorite voice actors on a stage from a distance and in an autograph line for a moment. But that didn’t mean everything. The greatest gift came when they gave their time in hotel lobbies and conference rooms, letting us witness their own reunions with each other, and inviting us into their lives.

And if you know my story with Adventures in Odyssey, you know how the gifts kept piling up: gifts of time, of words, of moments, of remembrance, with these very same voice actors, and with others who work with them, others who love them.

June 17, 2018, wasn’t August 16, 2008, but then again, it couldn’t be.

Other than those Adventures in Odyssey actors, there was never really anyone famous I wanted to meet. Well, there was one. If he ever came to town, I knew I would pull out all the stops to be there, but it was a dream I didn’t think would come true. But then he did, and so did I.

It meant the world to me to meet David Tennant at Denver Comic Con. He is every bit as lovely and generous with his fans as I hoped he would be. I stood at the front of the second overflow line for twenty minutes, which meant I had a clear view of him shaking hands with people and listening and signing bits of cloth and paper. And I saw the looks on those people’s faces when they walked away. It was beautiful to see his commitment to being fully present to hundreds of people, even though he would never see them again.

Memories are still beautiful even if only one person will remember them, but they are also bittersweet.

Celebrity is a strange thing. How much we will pay for 10 seconds of conversation, or a greeting and a flashbulb that gives us a glossy photo to pin to the wall. How much I paid for these things, and how I kept grasping for ways to be remembered: a clever word, spoken; a hundred words, written and given.

But there was not enough time, or words, or moments, or remembrance. This is how it is. But I still couldn’t help repeating our conversation to everyone who would listen, in hopes that I would remember every word. And I can’t help the tears in my eyes now.

It’s only natural to want to meet someone whose work has made its mark on us, whose art has tapped into something deep inside of us, or even someone whose life seems to overflow with goodness. We feel like we know them, and we want to meet them and tell them why we are different people because of them, but we have only seconds, and we are not fully ourselves for even those seconds, because we are weighing every word, we are starstruck, we can’t believe it’s really happening.

There’s not enough time, I thought while driving home, in the throws of an emotional hangover. There’s not enough time. And then I realized that I wasn’t thinking about my favorite actor anymore.

I am saying goodbyes now, as I prepare to move to New York in a few days, but I am in denial. I am giving a clever word, spoken; I am giving a hundred words, written. These are the words that matter most. David Tennant is a wonderful person, I’m sure, but he has people who are actually in his life to tell him this. He doesn’t need my card, even if it does encourage him. He doesn’t need my wit, even if it does amuse him.

But the time, the words, the moments, the remembrance, matters so much more when they are shared, when they are building a house for both parties. When we can be fully ourselves. When it is up to us to speak life into the person across from us, because they are our loved one, or because they are one who needs love, or both.

I treasure the memories of those flashy days, those once-in-a-lifetime handshakes, but they aren’t the only beginnings to celebrate. I most want to remember the beginnings that led to middles of new faces becoming familiar and small talk lengthening and days turning into nights and all the while we are together still.

There’s not enough time.

June 17, 2018, wasn’t August 16, 2008, and neither of those days was the one when I drove to the northernmost reaches of Denver to attend a meet-up group, or the one when I was one of two people to bring strategy games to a party-game gathering, or the one when I braved the snow to visit the nearest house church. But then again, they couldn’t be.

Story as it’s meant to be

old cinema

Last night, I went to the cinema with my dad and sister to see the 50th-anniversary episode of the British television show Doctor Who.

I’d only seen about a dozen episodes in total, and was going mostly for my sister, who wore her Doctor Who T-shirt and carried her sonic screwdriver and cheered at all the right times.

Even as the homages and references and plot points jumped over my head and skated every which way around me, I couldn’t help but feel the momentousness of it all.

We all have stories and characters we love. We move in close to them, pressing in as we would around a fire, hands and faces turned toward the warmth.

Yes, we can get lost in stories and escape in make-believe and find our hands and faces charred in the end.

Story can go wrong, and we can argue endlessly about whether it’s the story’s fault or your fault.

But then, then there are the times when story goes right, when story is as it’s meant to be.

Story as it’s meant to be draws us into its world … and then back out into our own worlds. In some little way or some big way or some unknown way, it connects us with what it means to be human.

We like these stories and characters because somehow, we can connect with them. He said something funny, and I laughed. That look in her eyes almost made me cry too. That story crushed me or resonated with me or reminded me of something important.

But then scripts and performances, editors and formulas, platforms and special effects, audiences and critics, it’s-not-like-the-book and it’s-barely-based-on-a-true-story, politics and hidden agendas … how easy it is to lose the magic of story.

But it’s still there, if we will only be open to it.

We all have moments wrapped in beauty, in the doing and in the thinking and in the living. And we all have moments wrapped in pain.

I drove home with my dad from that Doctor Who special without saying much of anything. Mumford & Sons filled the car and all outside was dark and same. And I was thinking of how characters and stories mean so much to every one of us, and art was alive inside me, and I felt so very full.

Moments like that, where the music and the mind come together to make something rich, even if it stays inside and unspoken, remind me of the other stories on screens and in books. Those started inside someone too, and now here they are.

Story connects us with what it means to be human. It happens when my unspoken meets your spoken, and I am changed.     

(photo credit)

a life update (if ever there was one)

Railroad tracks in Alaska
in Alaska

When everything you think about seems too big and too overwhelming and too stressful — even the tried & true happy subjects — you know it’s time for sleep.

That was me 24 hours ago, and sleep I did. I awoke to more rain, but less disorientation.

The rain is unusual this time of year. I’m not a huge fan of rain (nor a huge opponent either), but knowing that this may very well be the last precipitation I see for three or four months gives me fonder feelings for those spontaneous droplets. And I welcome any respite from the over-the-top heat native to my brown, pastoral home.

I am still recovering from my back-to-back weeks of adventure in Mexico and Alaska. I suppose that’s only natural since I just got back two days ago.

One week of desert heat and desert cold, followed by one week of balmy midnight sun and green and mountains. One week of beans and rice, tortillas and soupy meat; one week of heavy-on-the-fish American fare. One week of making concrete and playing with kids whom I barely understood; one week of seeing breathtaking views and reuniting with old friends.

In August, I plan to start blogging regularly, making good on my desire to find a small group, and replanting my feet in work and church and life routines here. In August. But until then I still have mini-trips and a special visit and summer weddings smilingly withholding my routines from me. And I don’t mind one bit. I smile right back — smile even more broadly than they are — and speak words of warmest, eagerest welcome.

But this week, this is my week in between all of the glorious moments and soon-to-be’s of July. This is my week to rest, to breathe, to pray.

If you need me, that’s where I’ll be. And if I’m not there, if you discover that I’m doing too much, kindly advise me to ease back on all the mile-a-minute planning and preparing. It will get done.

Now is the time to rest.

Moments and Seasons

Life isn’t about “those moments”; it’s about living after those moments have come and gone.

Graduating. Traveling abroad. Finding a job. Meeting your favorite celebrity. Getting engaged. Getting married. Having a child. Moving to another part of the country. Changing jobs. Going on vacation. Retiring.

All those moments are milestones in life, but they aren’t life itself. Life is marriage, not the wedding. Life is parenthood, not the birth. These milestones shape who we are, but of themselves they are not us.

I don’t want to be racing through life trying to get to the next milestone, the next “moment.” I want to enjoy each season I find myself in, whether it’s a season I choose voluntarily, or one that’s thrust upon me. Because there’s no wishing them away. Seasons are a part of life, whether they seem to be characterized by beauty or bereavement.

But seasons aren’t static, with all pain and no pleasure, or all pleasure and no pain. Living roots under the dead white frost … rain in a dry place … tremors and shakings where there have been none before … a snowfall in June. Seasons are dynamic, and feelings aren’t forever.

Live in the moments … and live after them.