When Maddy was little, I took her to see Monsters vs. Aliens on the 3D screen. She sat on the edge of her seat in wonder, wearing her 3D glasses and trying to grab the things that came flying off the screen at her.
At one point, she turned to me and said with some exasperation “you’ve gotta reach out, Mom! It’s way more fun this way!” So I did. I sat there with her, near the front of the theatre where everyone could see us, our arms stretched out in front of us, grinning from ear to ear. We didn’t catch anything, but we sure tried. (Or maybe we did catch something and just didn’t know how to carry it home.)
Today I remember her wisdom, and once again, I do my best to reach out, though I’m sitting at the front of the theatre again and people may laugh at me for my childish wonder. I reach out because I know it’s more fun. I reach out because it’s the only way I know how to live. I reach out because it keeps me from drowning in this sea of despair.
I reach out to my friend across the waters who’s doing a brave thing in the way she rises out of her story of abuse and who needs to know there’s someone with a virtual hand on her back.
I reach out to my sisters across the border who are weeping for the loss of young black lives and the loss of the idealism that told them tomorrow would be better.
I reach out to new friends who, like me, have no idea how to live in the centre of their privilege when so many without privilege are hurting.
I reach out to the lovers and the givers who have let go of the hope that their work will radically change the world but they do it anyway because they need to.
I reach out to my Indigenous brothers and sister who continue to guard the earth they love even when the bulldozers tear her apart, because her blood is their blood and if she dies, they die.
I reach out to those who hang onto every bit of strength they have as their bodies fill with cancer or their loved ones fall by their side.
I reach out and I offer my hand, I offer my voice, and I offer whatever little bits of courage I can muster. But mostly I offer my silence. Because I don’t know what to say that will make a difference. I don’t have any words that will re-shape their world. I don’t have wisdom that will stem the tide threatening to consume us all.
My hand and my silence. That’s all I have. But I reach out anyway. Because it’s more fun. Because my daughter needs me to. Because it’s the only way to teach her how to live in a world where too many things are flying at us.
Because it’s easier to stay above the waves when I’m holding someone else’s hand.