Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Learning from Outlander's The Devil's Mark (SPOILER ALERT)

This morning I was watching Outlander on my DVR.  This morning I saw Jamie's reaction to Claire's Time Travel story.  I saw his reaction to her admission that she had tried to go back to her own time and her husband, after being married to him.

For those who aren't familiar with the show, Claire is transported from her own 20th century to Jamie's 18th century.  She is married to a man in her own time period who looks very much like the bad guy in Jamie's time period.  On television, the viewer has actually spent more time with the actor as the bad guy rather than the husband, so if I'm average, I'm all for her staying in the past with Jamie.

Perhaps it was with a lifetime of silly romances under my belt that I winced a little when Claire admitted she had tried to get home to her husband AFTER being married to Jamie.

"Oh.  Don't say it like that!"

But I was in for a surprise.  Jamie asks if Claire was trying to return to her time and husband and rather than going to a place where he complained that he meant so little to her, he looked grief-stricken as he said,

"and I beat you for it."

You notice what he did there?  He didn't make it about himself.  Rather than look to where life affected him, he earnestly tried to put himself in Claire's shoes.  

I myself can't count the number of times, in the face of a loved one and confrontation, I've looked to where life affected me rather than being like Jamie.  But if I were to make a list of all the things I love about me, at the very top would be the fact that I have been able to do it sometimes..  

It's not about right, wrong or anything being a sin.  It's about living your life in a way where you can be happiest.  You can be happiest when the people who surround you are happiest and all of that happens when everybody stops looking for where there is shortcoming.

Rather than whine about her leaving him, Jamie delivered his wife to the spot she needed to be to do just that.  As a husband and a lover, he acted selflessly and put her needs before his own.  It was a beautiful moment, even if it only happened in fiction.  That sort of love requires not just a willingness to be vulnerable, but an acceptance that sometimes I will be hurt.

All weekend I've been thinking of a friend of mine.  I know him to be a dog person even though he hasn't owned as much as one pet during the entire time I've known him.  I know because he has told me a story of his two dogs and how they died.  He has told me he was so heartbroken he could never own a dog again.  That is how we normally behave.  We get hurt and we build a list of things to avoid so we are never hurt again.  We will be hurt again.  It is unavoidable.  When we guard ourselves from everything that may hurt us, it is love that gets shut out.  Consider my friend.  By never owning another pet, he shut himself off from all of the love and happiness a dog would bring. Worse, he kept his love away from dogs who badly needed a home and for what?  Did it make him any happier?  Did it remove the pain he felt from loving a creature and losing it?  No.  I think it would be more accurate to say it memorialized his pain and kept it precious.  Rather than allowing it to fade to a memory, it kept the emotion alive.  We cling to pain in order to avoid pain.

Consider this.  When you lock a door to keep something undesireable out, you barr anything good from coming in too.

What I see most in response to the Outlander episode, is a revival of the saying:

If you love someone, set them free.  If they come back to you, they're yours.  If they don't come back, they were never yours in the first place.

The problem with that is our traditional interpretation of the saying.  Generally we see it as proof of love, when really it is an instruction in how to love.  If you love someone, set them free.  Allow them to be who they are and do what they have to do.  That oh-so-judgemental second part?  The one about whether or not they were yours?  I see it as reassurance.  You see, if you allow someone to be free that also includes the freedom to stay with you.

My mother used to have a cat.  I can remember going to her room to ask her something when she wasn't feeling well and being told "Shut the door!  Don't let the cat out!"  Now I myself have two indoor cats that I have said nearly the same thing about.  The difference is my mother was locking her cat in the same room with her.  The other difference?  When you opened my mom's door?  Her cat wanted out.  He wanted freedom.  That's the way our pets were when I was growing up.  We controlled them and they resisted us.  As an adult, I have made other choices.  Right now I am sitting in my bedroom with two cats, neither of which have to be here because I have trapped them with a door.  The final difference?  You will never ever feel as loved as you do when a creature, human or animal, chooses to stay with you when they have the freedom to leave.

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