The Thing I Like About …

Touch: the thing that most likely was the reason the show got cancelled.

Touch deals with a boy and his father; the father is ordinary, and the boy is extraordinary. The boy can see the numerical underpinnings of the world, and he uses that ability to help others. The father loves his son, and uses that love to help him. And the glimpses we the audience get to see of the interconnectedness of human life are creative, inspiring and heartwarming.

But Season Two puts the boy and his father on a path of escape – running from some shadowy powers-that-be who know what the boy can do and either fear it or want to control it or both. We spend this season watching them stay less than a step ahead of their pursuers, and we don’t get to see as much of the magic interconnectedness of human life. Things just aren’t as creative, inspiring or heartwarming, and the tension of constantly hiding and fleeing becomes the only thing we experience.

The ending, though, was more than hopeful. It clearly (to my eyes, anyway) was going to allow the boy to use his ability even more than before, and to help others again, and to inspire again. Unfortunately the powers-that-be in the real world didn’t see it that way, and they decided to cancel the show.

And that, to me, is the real darkness that the boy (and his father) were combatting the whole time: the tendency of human beings to be afraid of the magic of our lives, to try to control and micromanage that magic for short-sighted reasons, and, sadly, to give up looking for magic just when it becomes visible – like lying down and freezing to death twenty yards from the farmhouse we glimpsed through the trees.

The first and most consistent thing the boy tries to impress upon his father is that the magic of the universe cannot be controlled or micro-managed; it blossoms as it wishes to, and does what it’s meant to do, regardless of any external attempts to change it or anyone’s opinions about it. The boy is never afraid of the people who follow and hunt them, because he has total faith and trust in the magic that he sees all around him. Season Two warned us what those of us who can’t see the grand pattern might do unless we’re careful: we’ll destroy rather than create, hurt rather than heal, fear rather than live. Season Two was the reason why Season One was so amazing – because in our real world full of fear and doubt and struggle, the challenge isn’t to find magic or harness it or understand it. The challenge is to leave it the hell alone – to trust, to allow, to believe, to relax, to know.

I’m disappointed that there was no Season Three, but if the purpose of the show was to demonstrate what’s possible – both good and bad – then I say message received. I’ll never be the one who sees the grand pattern – sometimes I can’t quite see myself getting through the next two hours – but I believe in the magical interconnectedness of humanity. I believe in magic, the real kind.

And if we can envision it while watching a television show, imagine what we can witness if we bring that vision outside with us. Imagine what the world will show us then.


The Thing I Like About …

Smallville: the one where the Bart Allen (the young Flash) is kidnapped by Lex Luthor.

Lex has, for whatever reason Lex has, kidnapped Bart and put him in a circular cage with an electric floor. If Bart can run fast enough, he can stay alive, but if he stops running as fast as he can, then the floor will be able to electrocute him.

Bart starts running. As fast as he can.

He runs for who knows how long, running so fast that he’s just a blur, running so long that sweat streams down his face, and he looks so tired. And he has no idea if anyone even knows he’s there, if anyone’s even looking for him. He doesn’t know if Clark Kent is on his way; he doesn’t know when Clark will arrive. But he knows he wants to live.

So he just keeps running.

I can’t even say how many times, and in how many ways, life feels like that circular cage, and we feel like Bart, just running as fast as we can for as long as we can, just to survive. Some days it doesn’t even feel worth it. We have no way of knowing when life will stop feeling like that, or even if the floor is really electrified, but we don’t want to find out the hard way by stopping and being killed. We don’t really know if anyone knows that we’re struggling, or if they care that we’re in trouble.

It just starts to feel easier to give up, to lay down and die – metaphorically or literally – to stop running before a rescue that might never get there.

But Clark knows about Bart. He cares about Bart. He’s looking for Bart. And he finds him, and saves him.

Is it about having faith in the Clark of our lives, having faith that people care about us and will help us? It is. But it’s about more.

It’s about running anyway, about having that faith in ourselves, about wanting our lives enough to keep living them. It’s about that kind of faith, and that kind of patience, and that kind of endurance – that if Clark doesn’t find Bart in time, then Bart will die trying to live.

That’s what it’s about … and what I try to remember when I feel like I’m stuck in that cage.

The Thing I Like About …

Willow: everything the High Aldwin says.

In Willow, the title character stumbles across a baby who needs to be returned to her people. But Willow’s people are hesitant to take on such a dangerous journey. They turn to the High Aldwin for counsel, and the High Aldwin “consults the bones” … which tell him nothing. So he asks Willow if he has any love for the child. Willow says yes. The High Aldwin says “the bones have spoken!”

As the party starts out on their journey, the High Aldwin sends a bird into the sky, and tells the party to follow the bird. The bird turns back to the village. The High Aldwin tells them, “Ignore the bird. Follow the river.”

Even before the baby arrives in the village, Willow is in the line to apprentice with the High Aldwin. The High Aldwin holds his hand out to each applicant, and asks each one in which of his fingers the power to control the world resides. Each applicant picks a finger and is told that it’s the wrong choice. Willow also chooses badly, but only after considering that the power was in his own finger. The High Aldwin later tells him that that’s the correct answer.

The High Aldwin is trying to show Willow that, although there is a copious amount of magic and wonder in the world, the real “power” is in ourselves – in our decisions, our desires, our efforts, our wishes and goals. Following magic – or anything else – blindly is not the way to achieve any of the things that we’ve asked magic to help us with. Love should be the basis for our decisions. We should be the instigators of our actions, the thinkers of our thoughts, the doers of our deeds. We should have faith in ourselves.

The High Aldwin has spoken: follow your heart.