November 23, 2010
I think my life would have been much easier if my own parents had bothered explaining how hard life is. They gave me very sketchy details: something along the lines of life being fair and that pretty much everyone went to heaven unless they were a communist or a Protestant. But I could tell they were lying. If they had told me life is brutally unfair but this is the only life you get and you”d better squeeze every fucking drop of joy out of it before the curtain falls, I suspect I wouldn’t have wasted so many decades being idealistic and miserable.
I walk a tightrope. I don”t want to stain him with my own cynicism, but I don”t want to send him out into the world unprepared and naÃ¯ve. Innocence can be cute, but it’s the purest and most dangerous form of ignorance. You don”t need to be innocent to be happy; innocence could even wind up being an obstacle. It would be cruel to train him as a lamb, then send him into a forest full of wolves. I have to teach him to be tough without being a thug and to be kind without being a pushover. He needs to learn what makes him happy and”the hard part”how to ignore the rest.
Maybe I”m over-thinking things as usual. Maybe my only task is to clear the boulders out of his path and then get out of his way. Maybe kids already know life is unfair, which is why they”re born crying.
Ten summers before he was born was the lowest point of my life. Death appeared to be the sweetest of all options. It was the only time I seriously contemplated methods for pulling the plug on the whole movie.
But before I so much as made an attempt, I had a dream I was back in my ugly hometown of Philly, walking through a hurricane. Women and kids ran screaming as angry winds hurled deadly chunks of rubble at brain-bashing velocities through the air. Despite the Sensurround chaos, I calmly trudged through the deathstorm, my arms cradling and protecting a small, vulnerable living being from harm. I didn’t know what this tiny little life form was, only that I needed to keep it safe and alive.
The dream sealed it. Death would have to drag me away kicking and screaming. I had to keep that little mystery critter alive, and death could go fuck itself.
I know it sounds like a piece of candy corn dipped in high-fructose corn syrup served with a sweet corn sandwich alongside a steaming bowl of corn soup, but nothing I’ve ever seen in five decades makes me happier than his smiling face. It took a while, but I finally know there’s life after death. I kiss him on the forehead every night before he goes to sleep.