Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Martian Child: Movie, real life

And aren't we all? I mean, Martian children--aren't we all?

I am; and I can't think of a family member or friend who isn't. Each of us fallen to Earth in our little space ship, each alone like the beautiful little boy who plays the orphaned, abandoned child in this touching, slightly imperfect film. Each of us having spent some time feeling as if we were living in a cardboard box, staring out through our little peephole at all the "normal" folk.

I mean, you've felt this way, haven't you? And even as I ask the question, I'm asking it from the point of view of my inner Martian, wondering if I've revealed, perhaps, a little too large a helping of my wacky bits. I mean, you still like me, don't you?

A week after viewing the film, it's still resonating. I look at Dad, who grew up desperate to be a real boy. I look at my son, Max, 19, trying to make a place for himself in the world of university life. I look at Katie, swinging so wildly between the extremes of high-school insider and misfit outsider, that I am dizzy with watching. I look at my mom, ever searching for a family, for approval, for safety, asking, like the little duck in one of my children's books: Are you my mother?

I don't look at myself, doing all of the above, and never quite making it. I dont look because it's too painful. So I look at you, reading this, making your own connections, thinking of all of the people you know who will never, ever fit in, no matter how hard they try.

And I wonder, a) why are we trying to fit in? and b) fit in to what?

Why do we, orphans all, feel just a little bit like Pinocchio, missing some essential fleshy bits that would make us just like everyone else; or missing, at least, the idea that we're real, that we're complete, that we're okay just the way we are. See, NO ONE is like EVERYONE else. So where do we get this idea?

In the film, in order to socialize the little weirdo, his adoptive father, played by John Cusack, takes him to baseball games, teaches him to hit a homerun, convinces him to take off the gravity belt he's constructed out of duct tape and batteries to hold him on the ground ("Mars has different gravity," ) Cusack's character literally loves him down to Earth. Something that I find myself doing often, for my kids, friends, parents, sisters, and the clients who consult me for readings and counseling.

I'm reminded of Barbara Kingsolver's story about the time when, returning to her hometown after publishing her first book, Pigs in Heaven, a best-seller, she was greeted with a huge parade fit for a celebrity. Overwhelmed, Kingsolver describes her amazement, having always been kind of an outsider. Then, at her book signing, person after person approached her whispering, essentially, "Thank you for writing about me so respectfully, with such insight. I had no idea you'd even noticed me." Kingsolver was again amazed, since none of these people were, in fact, the inspiration for her character--she'd written about the outsider she knew best, herself.

In Betsy Lerner's book, The Forest for the Trees, which I am still reading--and loving--Lerner suggests that all writers are outsiders, that, in fact, it's a requirement of the craft--this ability to observe, as if from outer space (or at least another continent) the habits of the inhabitants of the "strange land" in which we are, and will ever be, strangers.

She tells of Truman Capote, who, when he lost all of his high-society friends after spilling their secrets in his novel, "In Cold Blood", protested, "What did they expect. "They knew I was a writer. We use everything."

We are all Martian Children. Especially writers... and painters, accountants, sculptors, teenagers, photo editors, lawyers, stay at home moms, and indian chiefs. All of us using everything, every nuance of behavior, custom and language, to disguise our differentness. At least I am... aren't you?

This post is not done... but I am putting it out there anyway, where you can see it, with all it's bumpy edges. I know that seeing it sitting there, looking all incomplete and imperfect like some sort of ... I dont know, Martian Child will catch at me all day, make me return and return and return to fix it up, make it presentable... until then, here it is.

1 comment:

The Serial Poet of Albuquerque said...

Thank you for your very interesting and sensitive articles. I have often wondered if someone wasn't trying to give us a clue even in "The Bible" (Gasp!). I mean, everywhere there are references to Gods (plural-Elohim refers to Gods not God-singular)-i.e.,

Genesis 1:26 "The Gods said: 'Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves..."

Genesis 3:22 "Now the man has become like one of us in knowing good from evil, he must not be allowed to reach out his hand and pick from the Tree of Life too, and
eat and live forever."


Genesis 5:1 "On the day the Gods created Adam (meaning in Hebrew?: "Man of the Red Land/Red Earth") they made him in the likeness of Gods. Male and Female they created them."

Genesis 6:2: "The sons of the Gods, looking at the women, saw how beautiful they were and married as many of them as they chose.

Genesis 6:4: "The Nephilim (NPLM) were on earth in those days (and even afterwards) when the sons of the Gods resorted to the women, and had children by them. These were the heroes of days gone by, men of renown".

Google the very strange case of the Canary Islands' "Guanches" (bastardized from UaShems- ancient Egyptian for "those who rebelled; those who plotted to rebel") who carry U6b DNA, the most ancient (Haplogroup U) DNA on earth. The mummified their dead and built pyramids. They stood 6-8 feet in height and had dark white skin, but red, blond hair and light eyes.
DNA banks such as familytreedna dot com have done special studies on living ancestors of these fascinating people.

Look forward to continuing to read your blog! The Serial Poet of Albuquerque.