Remain In Light
By Chris M. Barkley:
(Author’s Note: I had originally wanted to write a three part retrospective history on the past four years, with the first two parts cleverly titled “Stop Making Sense” and “Life During Wartime”. But, as we all hurtle towards the MOST important federal election in the history of America, I thought a change of tone and focus was sorely needed. NOT that I’m going to ignore that completely, though. Thank You for your time and attention…Chris B.)
We live in a very fractious and troubled age. And that’s putting it mildly.
I have been suffering through many sleepless nights over the past nine months; very often I have awakened for no reason at all at three or four in the morning with tears in my eyes.
Between the COVID-19 pandemic and its ever growing death count, the subsequent economic turmoil it caused, the social unrest that followed in the wake of the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and many other African Americans and the lack of coherent leadership from the current administration is enough to keep any sane person up all night.
And for me, it begs several questions; was America EVER great, or were we collectively just fooling ourselves all along? Do we have a future? And most importantly, where is America headed next after the end of the election season on Tuesday, November 3rd?
With all of this going on, the moments of joy or hope were few and far between. But they were there, and I was lucky enough to have a life-affirming miracle come to me.
On April 1st, my daughter, Laura Moorman (nee Barkley) and her husband, Charlie Moorman, announced that they were expecting a child. This was met with widespread skepticism by myself and my partner, Juli, since Laura has professed on many occasions over the years to her mother, myself, her siblings and friends that she was perfectly happy being childless.
This belief was reinforced because of the image of an alien baby accompanying the “announcement”on her Facebook page.
So, you can imagine my shock and surprise when Laura posted an image of a very REAL photo of a pregnancy test with a positive result later that same day. Welcoming a pandemic baby was definitely not on my 2020 bingo card, but it was a welcome and heartening one, to be sure.
(Also: This is proof positive that my daughter inherited my sense of humor. Because I LOVE a good prank and I totally would have done something like this if I were in her situation. So, Yay!)
But what sort of world has little Navia been born into? Well, I feel as though that collectively, we have failed her in many respects.
Currently, our planet is undergoing climate change. More heat, more severe storms and other sorts of inclement weather. We have a BIG pollution problem, especially with plastic. Southwest Ohio has a plentiful supply of water at the moment, but that could change in the next decade or so. If she or her parents decide to move, they will have to take droughts, susceptibility to forest fires, mudslides and flooding. I hate to even mention the long overdue earthquake from the New Madrid Fault along the Arkansas-Tennessee-Missouri border or the faint possibility of a major volcano erupting somewhere in the United States in her lifetime.
We are still a long way from solving widespread poverty, affordable housing and income inequality. The running culture wars between the two main political parties will probably continue for some time.
And even if there is a change of administrations in the next two and a half months, there are other obstacles for Navia to face. Being bi-racial, there will still be people out there who will hate her on sight because of her parentage.
As she grows up, she will still face racism and sexism. There will be people who will try to regulate or restrict her reproductive rights. And if she finds that she is gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary or just queer, there will still be side glances, unwanted attention and anger over her decisions.
Then, there’s the COVID-19 pandemic. As I write this, in November of 2020, we still have a significant number of the populace unwilling to socially distance AND wear a mask, lack a simplified and effective treatment for the disease or, most importantly, a vaccine to prevent the further spread and future outbreaks.
That’s MOST of the bad news. But, there is some good news.
First of all, Navia has two loving parents, Laura and Charlie. And backing them up are several sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives. Whatever she decides to do, she has an army of love backing her up.
And in that army, Navia will have the benefit of several hundred years of wisdom and advice. And in addition, she will have access to the most modern technology and information retrieval. She’ll also have the opportunity to get the best education and advice on what she might want to pursue in her lifetime.
But, there’s more. Much more.
Navia’s name came from her father, Charlie. He told me that it came to him in a dream, shortly after Laura found out she was pregnant and they began discussing what to name their baby.
Her name, derived from the Sanskrit language, means “Rose that has blossomed”. The Urban Dictionary weighs in with this definition:
“Navia is a kind, fun, nice loving, beautiful girl. She’s also a badass, if you piss her off, you’re screwed. She’s the best girl you’ll meet, and everyone will be after her. Navia also means success. She will achieve her goals no matter what gets in her way.”
So, future suitors should beware.
Navia Moorman was born on October 7th, 2020. My partner Juli and I had the pleasure of meeting her in person two and a half weeks later.
As my daughter placed her into my arms, I felt an enormous amount of pride and love for Navia and her parents. It rather boggles my mind that in the years after I have passed on, one quarter of my genome will still be wandering around, having adventures as Navia discovers herself and her purpose in life. In turn, I am humbled and honored to be alive to bear witness to a new light being kindled in this universe.
It is the light she brings into this world that gives me hope. A hope that cannot be extinguished by all of the horror, madness and suffering that preceded her birth a few weeks ago.
A hope that Navia, and the newly born members of this generation can and will heal the Earth and bring people closer together.
Several days later, I awoke again in the middle of the night. But this time, instead of tears and fear, I came to realize that I had more to offer than my wisdom and knowledge.
The very next morning, I began planning to make a Time Capsule for Navia.
Over the four decades that I have been in fandom, I have collected a lot of stuff.
And now, like grandparents throughout history, I have someone to pass these precious heirlooms along to.
There is (or rather, was) a common belief in fandom that the ideal age for a child to be formally introduced to the concepts of fantasy and science fiction is when they reached ten years old.
I’m almost sure that probably isn’t exactly true for most 21st century children nowadays because they are exposed to many more sources of media that I could have imagined when I was ten.
I will leave the timing to her parents, but essentially, I am planning to stock the time capsule with a cornucopia of cultural items I would imagine might appeal to a ten year old.
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: NEVER MIND her recent transphobic comments, the value of her creation far outweighs and supersedes any her personal problems. The adventures of Harry, Hermione and Ron have been proven to be universal and timeless. And I have no doubt that they will remain so for some time to come.
Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine by Jay Williams and William Abrashkin: The third book in the Danny Dunn series finds the would-be boy inventor and his friends “borrowing” the computer of his scientist mentor to DO THEIR HOMEWORK! I loved this book as a kid because of the audacity of the story and the consequences they faced when their plot was discovered by their very wise teacher.
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov: If you’re going to be formally introduced to robots, why not read the classic that codified how robots were perceived in the mid-20th century. The stories may be a bit creaky to some but I think a young person could still be entertained by them.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (YA novel and 2018 film): The Oprah Winfrey produced film was panned and underrated at the time of its release. But Storm Reid, a biracial actor who plays the lead, Meg Murray, is brilliant in the role and is the beating heart of this movie. I think Navia will be thrilled to see someone just like her in the middle of a fantasy movie. I can only hope that she will also be enchanted by the novel as well. I know that some people find the christian subtext and allegory a bit troubling but I didn’t have a problem with it when I re-read it. We’ll see, I suppose.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman (novel and the classic 1988 film): I really don’t have to explain this, do I? Enough said.
What movies could possibly scare a ten-year-old a decade from now? I’m betting that Ghostbusters (1984 and 2016 versions), Poltergeist (1984), ET (1982), Labyrinth (1985) and, of course, Beetlejuice (1988), can still get the job done
In addition to all of this, there will be comics and graphic novels, buttons, DVDs of Star Trek (Season One of the Original Series), Star Wars (Episode One: The Phantom Menace), Doctor Who (Eccelston and Tennant’s episodes), some fannish clothing, hats and a few other surprises.
I’m also going to put a note in the time capsule as well. It will say:
We know you may not like every single thing in this little package from your grandfather’s past. These are the things that he knew and loved from the time we were your age upwards to when we both became adults.
If you have any siblings by the time you read this, we hope that your parents have taught you that it is always better to share your things with them than hoarding them all for yourself.
Always remember, it is better to give than receive and that the love you make for others should always be equal (or more) than the love you take.
Be Well, Live Long and Prosper,
Your Grandfather and Grandmother
Chris B. & Juli
PS: We also included a 500 Lumen (that’s REALLY BRIGHT, trust us on this) so that you may enjoy some of your books under your bedcovers after mom and dad go to to sleep.
If you’re into that sort of thing. Which you just might be.
PPS: Batteries Not Included.