I have this little game I play with my sister on occasion when she has gotten to the point on one of her own misguided pursuits that I have reached my limit of human endurance and assume the state of a regular christian martyr. For several years it was at this point that I would revert to my inner-child, 12 year-old response of throwing a fit and perhaps a punch or two to bring an end to the inane choices I was witnessing. Finally, when maturity and good sense (of course on my part) became the norm and not the exception, I moved towards a solution to my fit throwing. Often it was humor, or even just letting off a tiny bit of steam to relieve the pressure. For a time these two ideas have joined forces in the form of a prayer to god, right in the moment, right out loud. Now because this auditory prayer was not the proposed relief from the religion of my youth, and in fact seemed sacrilegious at times—I completely relieved myself from the guilt of my blasphemy by changing my “dear god” or “dear lord” prayer into a foreign language—then you see it sounded so cosmopolitan and pious at the same time that it was certain to be recognized for what it was—an attempt at levity to lighten the mood.
At this point a healing gem of majestic proportions presented itself in our dilemma. Harking back to a time when things were kinder and gentler, my sister had long harbored a guilty pleasure for the show “felicity”—a drama of the 90’s based on a young woman in college seeking the lessons of life and a boyfriend to boot. My brother became aware of her penchant for oversentimentalized drama and gave her the box DVD set for her birthday. She immediately became a bit kinder and gentler herself. It seemed that the almost fanatical pace she had set herself for watching the entire 4 year series was reacting with her psyche as some kind of a drug and she was calmed and cheered by the stolen hours of guilty viewing. She was not alone in her viewing as she often turned the series on when both my brother and I were around—we became ensconced in the surreal existence of felicity, the heroine who went against her parents wishes to leave Stanford and move to NYC to a fictional university to pursue an art career instead of medicine and a boy named ben. Ben who personifies the concept of existential angst, had a rough upbringing with a drunken father and while any woman would love to take this man-boy in her arms as if he were james dean, the “devilish” pursuit could only bring unhappiness in the end. Noal—the dorm resident who befriended and then romanced felicity with his quirky and neurotic behaviors and finally, Javier, felicity’s bespectacled (in the manner of elvis Costello), homosexual and Hispanic manager at the Dean and Delucca where both felicity and ben slaved to make ends meet to pay tuition at their fictional college.
On the few occasions that we all watched the show together, we would laugh and cajole as one new crisis after another presented itself in the lives of these college mates. The phrase “we all have our issues” became a stand-by for us in respect to the unerring constancy with which the characters took turns in the dramatic limelight. It wasn’t until we had completed the series and I caught my sister starting to rewatch it immediately “just to refresh her memory” that I realized the impact these characters could bring to our lives. And so it was that I recognized the prayers to deus were unfair, we asked so much of just one deity, it might serve my sister and me if we spread out our requests, never abusing just one god, but allowing the “demigods” of the world of felicity to apply their healing balm to our most troubled interchanges.
And so our sibling issues have truly reflected such a concentrated effort at good will. All the blessing of each other to spot our own problems and cast out the beam in eachother’s eyes removes the focus from the nerve grating moment and casts a golden hue of humor and whimsy into what can become unpleasant interchanges. I offer this technique to those of you seeking a way to heal the difficult moments of any relationship. Select a constellation of powers that will do well in your environment, it might be politicians, sports heroes, maybe even car salesmen—imbue in them the power to intervene on your behalf when prayed to…out loud and in front of the offending other for which you intend the intervention to occur. Suddenly the power of the stuffed-up emotion is immediately relieved, the “other” in your relationship is made immediately aware that some disagreeable step has been taken, and the two of you are freed to speak of the elephant in the room with humor and sidestepping to relieve the pressure and identify annoying behaviors.