There is a Predator in my brain. Sometimes it is quiet, dormant, napping, but it is always there. If I am not on guard, if I am not constantly vigilant, always on the ready, when it wakes up, it may kill me, and all of those closest to me could suffer. I don't know when The Predator arrived, or if it was always there. I don't remember a time in my life without it. It has been my closest companion in this life. Sometimes I have fallen into its embrace and let it soothe me with its poison. Other times I have rallied against it, screaming and biting, clawing, my way out of its grasp only to realize, it is never really gone. Whether I accept or fight, The Predator does not care. It knows, in the end, it will win either way.
We are over saturated with love stories where there are grand romantic gestures and epic sacrifices. I don't remember the last time I read a love story where love developed organically, slowly, over time, between friends, and instead of huge romantic gestures, and life and death sacrifices, talked about the safe feeling that comes from knowing you have someone who understands you. Actually let me amend that. There is one book that has done that, that I have read in the last few years. It was The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. Though not a "love story" specifically, there is a love that develops there organically through friendship and is not demonstrated through grand gestures but in simple sentences and support. The fact that it is queer love, makes it better for me of course.
With so many things in the world that we consume depicting unhealthy, and sometimes downright abusive relationships as the pinnacle of romance (looking at you 50 Shades of Gray) it is important to examine how we are loving, and why we love the people we do. Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, we love from a place of selfishness, and it is important to examine ourselves and break poor habits. This is undoubtedly true when it will also affect another person—we are rarely ever only responsible for ourselves.
I live in Seattle. That means during the winter it will rain almost every day, and the sun doesn't rise until after 7 AM and sets at 4 PM. This is only November, so as the year progresses towards the solstice, the daylight hours will only get shorter. I work extremely long hours as well, so I am in darkness for two to four hours before the sun rises, and am often at work four to six hours after it sets. During the winter months, I live my life in the damp dark embrace of my city. I love it here and wouldn't trade even this for anywhere else in the world. But on days like today, weeks like this week, when sleep is a precious commodity I am not taking advantage of, and the worries of my mind press close, it is hard to be cheerful in the absence of the light. I am sure that there are others struggling similarly, and so I thought I would give you five things that help me stay afloat—when the world goes dark and the only constant is the rain.
The multi-verse weeps today. A mind so full of wonder and ideas winked out. Stan Lee has died. No more cameos, no more surprise comic signings at tiny events. A lot of my heroes have died in recent years. Robin Williams, Alan Rickman, Prince, Carrie Fisher, Maya Angelou, Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, the list seems endless. But this one, this one seems so much worse for me. It wasn't one role, one character, one moment. It was so many, so many characters that emboldened me and others to do good, be good, answer to an authority of morals not laws. To experience companionship. How many nights did I lay awake with a flashlight under the covers reading Thor? The Amazing Spiderman? Captain America? His characters faced choices and circumstances, that were macrocosms of our life. Captain America, rebelling against the Superhuman Registration Act. Professor X, unwilling to see the truth about his closest friend. Spiderman choosing to be selfish in a moment, and costing himself everything. These are big events, that when taken into the scope of a non-hero can be really relevant. Protesting in the streets opposing the treatment of migrants, choosing to remove yourself from a toxic friendship, thinking twice about acting out of spite.