When GForce was about two, we were getting out of the car one clear fall evening and we stopped in the front yard to look up at the stars. I pointed to the biggest and brightest object in the sky and said, “That’s Jupiter.”
“GET Jupiter!” she said, as she scrunched up her tiny legs and attempted to jump up and touch it. She sighed. “Too hard.” Then she looked at me. “Mama get Jupiter!” I jumped up and reached for Jupiter and came down empty handed. I looked at her and shrugged. She sighed again, shrugged, shook her head, and said, “Too hard.”
We repeated this scene every evening that fall until Jupiter was no longer in the sky before she went to bed. She was never upset that we couldn’t get Jupiter, but she always wanted us to try. It was as though, over those few weeks, her day wasn’t complete without at least making the effort to Jump for Jupiter.
I’ve found this Get Jupiter! movie playing in my head a lot lately. Maybe it’s because Jupiter is being its brilliant self again this fall. Or maybe it’s because over the past couple of weeks, the most amazing responses continue to come in to my “It Gets Better” essay, either privately via email or in the comments section. Or maybe it’s both.
One of the commenters this week, Beth Thrutchley, wrote a stunning essay where she held in one hand both the persistent, sometimes frail hope of It Gets Better and the nagging question of Will It Get Better? If you haven’t read it, you must.
You may wonder how my Joybrain connects the dots between Jumping for Jupiter and It Gets Better. I think it has to do with the wildly crazy idea of engaging other people in something as absurd as reaching for a celestial body. It seems to me that when we connect with each other, and collectively envision a future worth living into, that is not so different from GForce looking up at me, pointing at a planet, and saying, “Mama get Jupiter!”
Jules Dassin’s 1948 movie “The Naked City” ended with the epic line “There are eight million stories in the naked city; this has been one of them.” Maybe I’m showing my irrational optimism here, but I think you could say that about each individual person.
John Rockefeller was once asked “How much money is enough money?” His reply, “Just a little bit more.” That’s how I feel about stories. It’s why I was crazy enough to create this website. I have an insatiable drive to tell stories, to hear stories, and to connect stories that appear to have no relationship to each other.
When I first read Beth Thrutchley’s comment/essay, I felt completely speechless as tears ran down my face. The question, “Will It Get Better?” seemed so impossibly big, even unbearable. When I was talking about it with PW, who is, by virtue of her vocation, in the Hope Business, she suggested that the answer to the question “Will It Get Better?” is partly in the very asking of the question. It just did get better, even if only a little bit, because Beth was brave enough, or crazy enough, or both, to share some of her stories and questions with the rest of us.
The webs of interconnectedness that we create with each other are built on the persistent, sometimes fragile threads of the stories and questions we share with each other. Community is grounded in the idea that one plus one can be so much more than two, whether we’re celebrating or grieving or singing or sitting in silence or the countless other ways we make ourselves known to each other.
So consider this my notice to all of you out there: if you need someone to Jump for Jupiter, either with you or for you, I’m your girl.