Talking to my ten-year-old self

Lately I’ve found myself with not so much  a writer’s block but with sort of a writer’s log jam.  There are so many things that I want to say; it’s all sort of jamming together in my brain, all trying to get out at the same time.  I’m just trying to prioritize and try to figure out what is most important.  Also, some of the stuff has to go in a particular order or it won’t make sense.  So I’m just kind of trying to sort out the chaos in my head.

To further complicate matters, my life outside my head is also about to get kind of chaotic for a while.  I’m starting a new job next week, and also my parents are coming this Friday for a “surprise” visit, and I kind of need to make the place presentable for them.  (At the very least, I need to set up the bed where they’re going to sleep.)  So if my posts get sporadic over the next couple of weeks, that’s why.

But I want to take a moment and revisit an idea that I talked about last Wednesday and Thursday, about the wish that I’d had in 2012 that I could go back in time to reassure my grieving ten-year-old self that the Muppets would go on without Jim Henson, and Kermit would still be Kermit, and everything would be fine.  Looking back on that wish from five years in the future, it seems horribly ironic.

And yet, I do still kind of want to go back in time and talk to my ten-year-old self.  I don’t want to tell her–or me…maybe “me/her”–about the Schism; I remember the anxiety I/she felt back then when Jim Henson died, and I wouldn’t want to add to my/her anxiety by burdening me/her with troubles that I/she can’t to anything about.

(You know what?  This is getting too confusing with all the “me/her” stuff.  I’m just going to use “her” to refer to my ten-year-old self, and you’re just going to have to figure it out as we go along.)

But I would like to tell her about how I connected with Steve Whitmire last week.  That would be difficult to do–quite apart from trying to avoid the Schism, I’d have to explain to her what the Internet is.  I think I’d just say to her, “I can promise you that someday you will talk to Kermit the Frog, but it won’t be in a way that you might expect.”

That experience was really meaningful to me.  I love all the Muppets, but I’ve always considered a special few–specifically Kermit, Bert and Ernie–to be friends that I could turn to for comfort in times of trouble.

And I’ve seen troubles; I had a terrible time as a teaching assistant in grad school, and then after that, I had a job for four years that made my teaching assistantship seem like a picnic.  I can’t go into a lot of details there, but suffice it to say that I was in a very vulnerable position and, despite the best efforts of management, I endured a lot of verbal abuse that tore me down to the foundation of my being.  It completely destroyed my sense of self.  While working through the trauma of that experience, watching Steve’s work with the Muppets (pre- and post-1990) helped me to heal and to rebuild my self-concept.

It goes without saying that Steve went through a trauma back in October, and although I can’t say from first-hand experience, I imagine that being summarily dismissed from a job that one loves–not just a job, but a vocation–after nearly 40 years would be a major blow to one’s self-image.  In any case, the pain that Steve feels is palpable when he writes about it on his blog.  I’ve tried to make comments of support and appreciation on every post, with the hope that he will read them and smile, that they’ll help him to feel even just a tiny bit better, but not necessarily expecting him to acknowledge them in any way.  You could think of it as being like Johnny Appleseed; I planted the seeds in the hopes that they would grow, but without knowing whether I’d get to see any of them bear fruit.

So it was both very gratifying and very humbling when he quoted a comment I had made and said, “This post made my day!”  To know that I made a tiny difference in his life, even if it’s just momentary…to be able to ease his pain even just slightly…to be able to pay back the smallest portion of the joy and comfort that he’s given me over the years…that’s a treasure that I will carry with me forever…and one that I really want to share.

 

 

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