We are invincible creators. Abraham-Hicks
The most delightful surprise on earth is to suddenly recognize your own worth. Maxwell Maltz
. . . it is never too late to embrace our desires or to experience the rapture of being fully alive. Jalaja Bonheim
Like a bird in the sky, I believe I can fly to infinity and beyond! Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story
My three-year-old grandson Viren grabbed the phone from his father and yelled through the airwaves in a flurry of fast-moving words. He could hardly talk — he was so excited. There was something about Buzz and Woody and the movie, Toy Story, and then there was the even louder jet-stream holler into my ear, “We’re doing costumes! Good-bye!” Actually, I already knew they were doing costumes. His parents had kept me informed. It was more than a week until Halloween, and this excitement had begun four days earlier when the Buzz Lightyear costume arrived at their house. According to his parents, the minute that Viren slipped into that spacesuit and the wide-winged jet-pack, it was a done deal — the costume was not coming off. Not for anything. Viren had become Buzz Lightyear. No, that’s not quite right. He hadn’t become Buzz — he was still sweet adorable Viren, with his buoyant Viren essence. But there was something new, too, something more that he had embraced. Viren was not Buzz, but he had become buzzed with a heightened sense of his own power.
Grandpa Cam and I witnessed this surge of Viren power in his mother’s recent Facebook posts. There was the video of him jumping off the couch in a great flying leap of gusto. “Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!” And the one, where he was perched, belly-down, on the soles of his mother’s feet as she lay on the ground, bent-kneed, as she thrust her legs up, in a great explosive lift-off, as he spread his arms and flew through the ethers. And the one where he zigged this way and that and hollered out to the stars: “Like a bird in the sky, I believe I can fly to infinity and beyond!”
Sure, Viren felt this heightened connection to a source of power when he fastened on his jet-pack and embraced the qualities of a superhero that he had watched again and again in the movie, Toy Story. And my kids did the same thing. It was Spiderman who excited Viren’s father, and the superheroes depicted on the fronts of the undershirts for preschoolers in the eighties who he embraced. But then it became something more for him, and for his little brother and for the next door neighbor girl and the friend who lived across the alley, something personal as they dug deep into the toy box for helmets and capes, as they dug deep into their own psyches, too, as they charged down the hill in the back yard, as they named themselves, “The Power Team.” They were a powerful bunch, whooping their way through their days. And so is Viren. And that power, that superhero charge, that connection to something as big as infinity and beyond, it is not the sole possession of comic book and movie superheroes. It is here for all of us.
And I wonder whether it is easier for the three-year-olds to remember this connection. When I was Viren’s age, on weekday afternoons, I often would sit on the staircase leading up to our home’s second floor, waiting for my baby brother to wake up from his nap. It was my job — perhaps my self-proclaimed job — to scamper into our shared bedroom and entertain him until my mother lifted him from his crib. I carried a green and pink quilted blanket, wrapped it around me like a queen’s superpower stole, swung it like a magician’s cape, felt happy and grand as my brother broke out in uncontrollable fits of baby laughter. That was the part of my job that dealt with the world of matter, of blankets and bodies and a giggling ten-month-old. There was another part of those afternoons on the staircase, however — the waiting-for-baby-brother part, the day-dreaming part. And I have a distinct memory of one of those waiting-on-the-stairs days. As I sat on my perch, maybe looking out a window in the hallway or the adjacent living room, maybe just imagining the nighttime sky, I was thinking about the stars and how they are beyond comprehension, thinking about where I had been before I was born, where I would go after I die. I was thinking about infinity and beyond, and I have no idea how I even knew the word infinity, and, yet, I know that I was using it, that is was in my vocabulary and that I “got” it, perhaps in a deeper way than I do now more than half a century later.
The late-October wind was blowing in from the north this past Thursday, rousing up the waves along Lake Superior’s shoreline in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on a gray-sky pre-Halloween afternoon. And I knew that I needed to be close to that power. It had been a while. In this autumn of hunkering in, of allowing my back, my body and soul to heal, I’ve wanted to dwell in the quiet part of the inner landscape from which clarity emerges. On this day, however, it was the thrashing waves that were calling to me. And, in the early evening, my husband Cam and I drove to Marquette’s gem of a lakeside park, Presque Isle, and I stood as close to the waves as I dared and I watched them crash into the breakwall and fly up into the air in great spumes of spray and I hauled out my phone and I pushed the button and I screamed into the waves and into the phone as I shared this power, in a fifty-second video, with my three-year-old grandson, Viren. And, a few minutes later, at another part of the park, as I pressed my now-bare-feet into the ancient black rocks, as I walked out even closer to the splash and the spray and the crash of waves, I, like Viren, like my kids and their Power Team, like the three-year-old me on the staircase, hooked up to the super surge of power that dwells within each of us and is as mighty as these thrashing waves, and I said it, I really did. I yelled it at the top of my lungs. “Like a bird in the sky, I believe I can fly to infinity and beyond!!!”