Gather ‘Round, Padawans: Padawan Goals

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c. S.W. Sondheimer Hitting 2017 like a Thunderbolt

I’m not a huge fan of the term “resolution.” A resolution is a static thing one beats oneself up over if it isn’t achieved. A goal is malleable, flexible, something one can continue to work toward without expiration and without and loss of self-confidence or self-worth as arbitrary dates come and go.

This Padawan has some goals for 2017.

Be Misty Knight: “Don’t call me the woman behind the man. I have my own thing going on.”

There’s an old saying, “Behind every powerful man is a great woman.” Yeah, well, some of us are sick of being stuck in that box. I think it’s time for us to make clear we don’t plan on being satisfied with a pat on the head and a cliché. On many, many occasions, I’ve had a guy, during a discussion on gaming or comic books or some other topic that has been traditionally within the male purview, lecture me on why my opinion is wrong. Opinion, folks. Because they have a certain set of genitalia that I lack, their opinion is apparently more valid than mine. Nor can I count how many times a male of the species has touted the virtues of intelligence and assertiveness to me only to find myself dumped when I dare actually evince such qualities. Nor the number of times I’ve attempted to engage men on this very subject and had them tell me why I’m wrong, why it isn’t happening, why my point of view is off. That my experiences, actually experiences, things which, had I chosen to record my entire life could be proven, are invalid or, worse yet, false.

I fight. And then, eventually, I get exhausted and I stop fighting. I wouldn’t call it conceding because as much as I’m sure these particular guys would like it, I’m not going to give them a win, but I do let it go. It disperses into the ether and, once again, I feel like a pet who’s occasionally paraded out to do a trick and then, after half-hearted praise, tossed back into my crate to await my next superior-granted opportunity.

Misty Knight would never let anyone, man or woman, treat her that way. She has her own thing going on and so do I. That thing is valuable and important. So are my opinions and experiences. So am I.

This year, I will be absolutely, and unapologetically, more Misty Knight.

This year, I will fight as long and hard as I must to change one person’s mind.

I have the shield. And I’m not giving it up ever again.

c. Marvel Comics


Be Luke Cage: “Always Forward”

The past is important: who we are, where we come from, what we’ve done, and how we’ve done it. But many of us tend to get mired in the past, held back on our path by guilt and regret. Both are useful to an extent but when they hamper forward momentum, they become cannonballs locked around our ankles with trailing chains (pirate mood today, I guess).

I tend to spend a lot of time dwelling rather than processing, integrating, and moving. I have an irrational, and sometimes damaging, desire to fix what was cracked or broken long ago, or to prize a do-over from the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey. Both are impossible and my rational mind is fully aware of the fact, but humans are only rational animals to an extent and I am one of those who suffers from obsessive thought-loops, which serves to magnify the irrationality of my irrational bits.

It’s difficult to believe two words could bust through a lifetime of baggage, but again, humans are only rational to some extent and some words, when correctly paired and presented in the right moment, can shatter a part of you. Sometimes, the experience is excruciating. Sometimes, it sparks enlightenment.

Watching 2016’s Luke Cage, I was gifted with the later when Pops, and then Luke, shared their mantra: “Always forward.” So complex and, at the same time, so simple. While the person I was will always be part of me, shaped the person I am, the person I am and will be, is the greater part. Everything I was brought me here and here is where I am now. I can’t change what was but it’s my responsibility, my privilege to change what will be. So, this year, friends? It’s my mantra too.

Always forward. Always.

Be General Organa: “I don’t care.”

Social norms are good. They keep us from murdering one another over the last cupcake. But they can also be damaging. Creative types often find themselves drifting from those norms and, quite frankly, to be creative, to unearth something new in our own minds, to create something from nothing, to provide others with books and movies and television shows, we have to. If we didn’t deviate, it would all be the same.

How many of you read a single book a second time (with the exception of a few special favorites, of course)? Right, exactly. Now imagine if every book ever written were the same because authors forced themselves to comply, to fit in, to follow the rules. If every movie you paid $10+ for was the same story with the same characters happening in the same place at the same time.

Dull. Dull, dull, dull.

And yet, those of us who create, who game, who see new worlds, who dream, are often ridiculed as nerds and weirdos. Freaks. We are those upon whom others climb to make themselves feel more important, more relevant. Better.

It used to bother me. In middle school and high school, I was a misfit. I was teased relentlessly by the “popular kids,” who I now know were themselves lacking in confidence and needed a ladder to climb. How sad for them they couldn’t think of any other way than debasing another human.

As I’ve gotten older, found my tribe, I’ve come to care a lot less what others think of me. I’ve come to own terms that I used to view as insults. I’m proud to be a freak, proud to be a weirdo. To be a nerd about some things and a geek about others. I’ve tried to teach my kids that being weird is the same as being awesome and they seem to have absorbed it as given, which is one of my prouder parenting barometers.

But from time to time, when certain people use the term, people I love and respect, it’s still a gut punch. When they tell me they’re worried about my son being “weird,” I go all mama bear, show my teeth and claws, and roar.

Fact is, though, what those people think doesn’t matter. Even if I love and respect them, even if I’ve spent years seeking their approval, they can’t touch me unless I let them. They can’t hurt me unless I allow it.

I wish they’d left the scene below in The Force Awakens but I’m glad we’ve all seen it now. It is Carrie Fisher, it is General Organa, and this year, it will be me.

This year? I don’t care.

Be Dora Milaje: “Move. Or you will be moved.”

While I try to be optimistic, the current climate in our country is a dangerous one. Whether or not the president-elect actually endorses the acts of hatred and intolerance perpetuated since his election and the new laws that are destroying freedoms for anyone not a straight, white, male, he created a climate in which such acts are acceptable. He has created an America in which it is open season on anyone who doesn’t fit a narrow profile, in which it is socially, if not legally, acceptable to assault someone if you don’t like his/her gender, sexual orientation, color, or religion.

The Dora Milaje (Adored Ones) are the bodyguards of the Wakandan monarchy. They have been utterly devoted to the kings and queens, willing to give up their lives and their happiness at every moment should it be required of them.

In the new World of Wakanda comic, however, we are seeing two Dora Milaje take that duty a step further. When they feel T’Challa (Black Panther) has made a decision which endangers the entire nation, they act as his conscience to tell him so. And when he disregards their concerns, they realize there is one duty greater than that to their king: their duty to their people. They stand tall and walk away from their sworn leader so as not to betray their true charges: the nation and inhabitants of Wakanda.

It is our duty to stand, not only for our fellow Americans but for our fellow humans. I was, for instance, planning a trip to Italy for the fall but after the news their government is planning mass deportations, I’ve changed my plans. I am teaching my children some Spanish and the little bit of Arabic I remember from school. We strive to be inclusive in our literature choices (Rick Riordan has written an amazing gender fluid character in his Magnus Chase series, by the way) and in the television they watch. We have taught them to speak up if they see someone being bullied. To ask questions. To wonder.

To take a stand even if it means putting yourself in harm’s way.

I am teaching them to be Dora Milaje.

And I am teaching myself.

This year, I say: do not come after my family. Do not come after my friends or my neighbors. Do not throw racial slurs at anyone in my community. Do not sneer at a same-sex couple or a different sort of family. Do not mock the disabled, do not deride the mentally ill. Yes, you are entitled to your opinion provided that opinion doesn’t lead you to treat others as less than human. If it does, you deserve neither my respect nor my consideration.

My intolerance is for the intolerant.

If I see any of these things, if I hear them, I will ask you to move. And if you do not comply, you will be moved, I promise.

Be Moony, Padfoot, and Prongs: “I solemnly swear I am up to no good.”

Yes, I left Wormtail out. He’s a jerk.

All of the above goals are… serious. I’m a serious person by nature and upbringing. I realized, however, rewatching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with the family over new years, that I spend the vast majority of my time so serious, I allow the playful part of me to languish, much to my own detriment.

That just isn’t healthy.

Life should be a balance. That balance may be skewed one way or the other, but to be a fully realized person, and to not lose one’s, for lack of a better term, soul, one must feed both parts of one’s nature.

And so, my last goal for 2017 is to let the silly, whimsical bit of me have her head more often, to spend more time “up to no good.” Following the Marauder’s Map instead of the schedule or the list. I’m an adult and a parent, yes, and I have my own responsibilities and also charge of my kids’ responsibilities. Those are important and it’s essential they learn when such things take such precedence; my kids will be reasonable human adults if it kills me. But it’s also good for me to look at their part of the map, to remember how wonderful it is to play, to make faces, to create stories and songs and, yes, even havoc. The joy to be found in a cool rock or a cloud shape, a new story and, yes, even Minecraft.

As long as they remember to clean up afterward.

How about you, Padawans? What are your goals for the coming year?

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2 thoughts on “Gather ‘Round, Padawans: Padawan Goals

  1. Shiri Sondheimer, will you be my Pantronus?

    I’m going to steal one from Deadpool this year: MAXIMUM EFFORT!

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