Over the past month I haven’t been able to get the following clip from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade out of my head. Take a minute to watch it, but if you read my blog you are probably already familiar with it because I tend to attract Nerdingtons like pretty flowers attract butterflies.
Elsa can’t see anything else but the grail. She can reach it! She’s got her fingertips on the edge of the cup. Just hold on a little longer, stretch a little further, and she’s lost into the crevices of the cavern when Indy can’t hold her and she slips from his grasp.
Then the earthquake shakes the room and Indy is hanging off the edge, his father (Sean Connery) just barely catching him by one of his hands. Screaming “Junior” he tries to plead with him as Indiana pled with Elsa to turn around, he couldn’t hold her, she was slipping. “I can reach it” he whispers, reaching for the cup.
But suddenly something changes. Echoing from behind his strained shoulders, Jones Sr says “Indiana.” Surprised, Indy stops for a moment, and then again, “Indiana” and he turns to his father. “Let it go,” he says, gently. Indy doesn’t look back and allows his father to pull him up, giving him both his hands.
Perhaps the most important part of that scene is Connery’s character’s switch from the term Junior, which he has stubbornly used on his son throughout the entire movie despite Indy insisting on Indiana, to his chosen nickname. Giving just that small inch, recognizing the desires and individuality that his son requested as part of his identity, was important enough to distract Indy even from the holy grail itself, so that his father’s love could save his life.
From childhood, we are taught to have dreams, aspirations, things that we plan to be and do, ULTIMATE goals. Most work hard in school, spending our time as young adults joining every club, every committee, learning instruments and sports and languages. We compete to get into college, to get into fraternities and sororities, for scholarships and grants. We learn a craft, we practice it, we apply for jobs, we plan to obtain a master’s degree. We move from place to place, from job to job. We pay the costs to obtain our ULTIMATE GOAL.
But what happens if we can’t take the grail past the seal? What happens when an earthquake knocks the cup from our hands, just out of reach?
For most of this year I felt like Elsa. Crazed eyes, hanging from my fingernails, scraping at the edge of a cup that would give me life, but that was out of reach. The cavern shook with the loss of my job, the injustice of how I lost it, failure in my accounting coursework because I was working so hard to keep my job, finding a new one, fighting poverty and financial strain, being back in a job I hate and dealing with it – where did my life go? If I just work a little harder, reach a little further, keep working keep trying keep going keep cryingkeepbreathinggotosleepdohomeworkplanlessonsbudgetmoneyavoidbillcollectorcallsfindenoughtoeatsleepbreatheworkschoolgradesblogreadwritemoneybills…
Indiana. Let it go.
This past weekend I felt myself swinging from the cliff of my life, reaching like a crazed motherfucker for that goddamned grail and I heard a small voice inside of me that just said “let it go.” Let go of your courses, they’ve force-withdrawn you anyway because you didn’t pay tuition. Let go of your resentment over losing your job as best you can; you can try to teach for the district’s e-school next year and return to teaching from home. Let go of your worry over money, the worst is over for now.
So I swung around in my mind, and with both hands, pulled myself out of the abyss, and escaped the cave temple before it collapsed. The cup that had promised to give me new life, new career, revenge, all of it, had fallen out of my reach.
To all of you angels out there that have sent me books, candy, money, and words of support this year, you are my Henry Jones Senior reminding me that you heard me and you value my presence, and you want me to be safe and alive. Every time you comment or message me, or read my posts without saying anything, I feel like my being here matters, that what I have to say is entertaining or meaningful. And this year, as I was being rejected from my work and family, you were there. You were listening. And you took my hand and helped heave me away from the drop.
This holiday season, and as we move into 2018, be the voice and hand that pulls someone back from the edge, and listen for when you might need to let something go. That voice might be an actual person, or it might be inside your own head, but when you hear it do yourself and your happiness a favor: listen and let it go.