In his book the Water of Life, Michael Meade retells an old story about a group of companions on a quest. At the center of the story is a prince, and in the course of his journey, he picks up a strange collection of characters: one who can see great distances, one who can hear all the way to the center of the earth, one who can swallow whole oceans, and so forth. Nearly all are physically marked in some way, such that their oddness is immediately obvious. And all, in the beginning, are isolated, but of course, as the story progresses, they learn to work together quite well and are able to accomplish amazing things.
The story is not new, but it does show up in contemporary culture (think X-men) as often as in folklore. When stories show up again and again, it’s because they resonate with us on a deep level, deep enough to transcend the various zeitgeists we progress through and speak to the center of the human condition.
I have always been a bit drawn to friends who are obviously unusual in some way, sometimes in many ways at once. The world being what it is, those who wear strangeness are often a bit on the outside, because our choice of companions reveals something of where we truly are, and most want to to deny strangeness. In truth, though, everyone is strange, and even those who keep it less than visible feel its isolation from time to time.
This Saturday, I’m graduating after what feels like a lengthy era of juggling way too many things at once. If I had actually thought about everything that would need to happen so that I could come to this point, I would have said it was impossible, like swallowing the ocean or hearing to the center of the earth.
Luckily I found my own collection of odd companions with various superpowers they were willing to lend me. (Sorry if this comes as a shock to any of you, but you people are quite bizarre, and I mean that in the best possible way.) So as I’m finishing up this week, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of my odd companions. Thanks for lending me your superpowers, for blessing me with your strange company, and for occasionally helping me swallow a whole ocean when the need arose.