This year at Dragon*Con, I got to meet one of my childhood heroes, Lindsay Wagner who played Jaime Sommers aka The Bionic Woman.
I didn’t think meeting her would affect me so much. When I first entered the Walk of Fame (where all the celebrities gather to sell their autographs and memorabilia) and saw her sitting there, I felt myself starting to get teary-eyed.
“Hi, I’m Joey.” I said. “I just want to thank you. When I was a little girl, and used to watch you, I just , well see I had 3rd degree burns and I had to go in the hospital a lot and in the afternoons I would watch your reruns and I had your doll house and it had the best bed and it was so much better than Barbie and I just knew that if you were better after your accident that maybe I was better too and I just . . . .(deep breath). . . Thank you.”
Her eyes were kind as she seemed to try to process all I said. She seemed so tiny and delicate in comparison to the larger-than-life part she had played in my impressionable imagination. Her handler was very sweet as she took my money and told me to choose a picture for Ms. Wagner to sign.
Lindsay stood up so we could snap a quick photo together and then shook my hand and said, “Thank you, Joey. Take care.”
It was just a tiny moment in her day, but it really got me thinking about how the Bionic Woman is about surviving and being better than you were. She was broken, she died, and yet she came back and was better – and used what she had to help others. Not just with power, but with teaching others and sharing.
Later that day in her panel with Lee Majors, she talked a little bit about it. She really liked that her character’s show wasn’t just about what she could do with strength, but how she could solve the problem with her brain. It wasn’t just about her being bionic, it was about her having that woman’s instinct to survive and succeed.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Well, maybe. Or maybe, when you are broken is a great time to upgrade yourself. It’s a time to not just heal what was torn apart, but figure out how you can improve upon it.
When I say “you” – I of course mean me. I think it’s interesting that during metamorphosis, a crucial step in development often involves breaking through your protection and crawling to the next level. This is something that has to be done without help, or often the creature will be too weak and die. The actual act of breaking is what makes it strong enough to survive.
The bird has to break through their shell, the butterfly has to push through the cocoon. A baby kangaroo (a Joey) has to crawl from where it is first born up to its mother’s pouch (pocket) so that it can grow some more.
I’m not sure anymore which phase of growth I’m on – from birth to pouch, or pouch to being the new and improved Joey. I’m pretty sure I’m not part of a government experiment and equipped with bionic parts. But each time I feel like I’m about to break apart, I just try to keep my head down and concentrate on becoming as strong as I can.