being brave

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My favorite moment in A Wrinkle In Time is right before Meg Murry leaves to face the nefarious IT and rescue her little brother. Meg, the protagonist, basically spends the entire book being pulled into these massively scary and complicated situations that she doesn’t understand because unlike her five year old brother, Meg isn’t a genius. After finally finding her father, Meg just wants to return to being a child, but she can’t. She is the only one who can rescue her brother, so instead, she has to say goodbye:

“At last she turned to her father. ‘I’m-I’m sorry, Father.’

He took both of her hands in his… ‘Sorry for what, Megatron?’

Tears almost came to her eyes at the gentle use of the old nickname. ‘I wanted you to do it all for me. I wanted everything to be all easy and simple… So I tried to pretend that it was all your fault… because I was scared, and I didn’t want to have to do anything myself-‘

‘But I wanted to do it for you,’ Mr. Murry said. ‘That’s what every parent wants… I won’t let you go, Meg. I am going.’

‘No.’ Mrs. Whatsit’s voice was sterner than Meg had ever heard it. ‘You are going to allow Meg the privilege of accepting this danger. You are a wise man, Mr. Murry. You are going to let her go.’

Mr. Murry sighed. He drew Meg close to him. ‘Little Megaparsec. Don’t be afraid to be afraid. We will try to have courage for you. That is all we can do…'”

We can’t really go back to being kids, and it’s not easy growing up. Meg can’t go back, as much as she wants her dad to take care of her and make it all better.

As much as her dad wants that, too: “That’s what every parent wants.” And it’s the scariest thing I can imagine to allow this kid you hope you didn’t mess up to go out into the world, to send them to stand up against the very real IT. But it’s a privilege to let them leave, to let them be brave.

There are lots of days when I am not brave, and I want to go home.

Sometimes, I want to go to my physical house. Most times, though, I want to go to a home in a different time. I want to go to the very back seat of a white suburban, where my mom can barely hear me over the three siblings laughing beside and in front of me. I want to be forced to sit through Heather’s orchestra concert, and I want to fake being asleep on the way home so my dad will carry me up the stairs. I want Thad to grumble that I’m not rowing hard enough in the canoe. I want Rhett to ban me from his room. I want Mom to pack my lunch and put my drawings on the fridge. I want it to be easy and comfortable. I want it to be exactly as it always was.

But that’s not being brave.

Being brave isn’t something I usually attribute to myself. I don’t claim it, and yet, I can be brave. Moving to California to live by myself was certainly pretty brave. Choosing not to go to law school was brave (I think- we’ll see). Deciding that I was really going to be a writer- that was brave, too.

There’s part of me that will always long to be ten years old again, but I won’t ever be. And I’m excited about being older, about growing up. But I’m nervous, too.

I’m scared about losing people, even myself, to that big IT that never relents.

I’m scared about failing, but I’m not afraid to be afraid any more. I choose to be brave. I choose to face the danger like Meg.

Do you know how she rescues Charles Wallace and defeats IT?

Love. Love makes you brave. Love makes me brave.

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