Only eighteen months ago, I was feeling completely stuck in every aspect of my life. I was waiting on an adoption that felt like it was never going to happen (my timeline might be slightly off, and I wish I could remember it with more clarity, but I think it was a little less than a year and a half ago that we learned Ann was pregnant). I was in a job I hated. I didn’t feel that I was growing any in my improv. I had writing projects that were either stagnant, or already completed and waiting on me to take the next step.
Now, my writing projects are moving forward (one recently self-published book and another on the way), I’m making strides in my improv, I’m — well, okay, I’m still in a job I hate, but I guess I’m a bit better at it.
But mostly, of course, I became a dad to one of the most amazing little girls in the history of ever, and while I might be slightly biased I am confident that this is completely true. She’s so happy so much of the time, and she’s friendly and smart and pretty much my only complaint is I want her to stay still when I’m trying to change her stinky diapers.
She’s so close to so many things; she has a few words she says but every single day I hear her trying to repeat other words that we use (“more,” and “okay,” and “doggie,” and so many more). She’s started imitating actions — we’ll shake our heads at each other, we’ll play “no MY hand is on top,” and the other day I swear she tried to imitate me beat-boxing, which I am both proud and embarrassed to admit I do a lot when I think nobody is listening. (So far Sage can really only manage the kick drum and the open hi-hat, and the rhythm is very eclectic, but I’m sure in a few months she’ll be the Keith Moon of beat-boxing.)
There’s a scene in Groundhog Day in which Bill Murray’s character, Phil, says to a fairly drunken Punxsutawney local, Ralph, “What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same and nothing that you did mattered?”
Ralph’s answer, played for the laugh, is: “That about sums it up for me.”
There were days I felt like that. Oh, I knew better; I knew that you can only take each day for what it held, and I had plenty of good days. I had Ann, and that helped me through the worst days, and I hope I helped her through her worst days too.
There’s also a great quote from the show “Angel.”
Angel: Well, I guess I kinda worked it out. If there’s no great, glorious end to all this, if nothing we do matters… then all that matters is what we do. Because that’s all there is. What we do, now, today. I fought for so long, for redemption, for a reward, and finally just to beat the other guy, but I never got it.
Kate: And now you do?
Angel: Not all of it. All I wanna do is help. I wanna help, because I don’t think people should suffer as they do. Because, if there’s no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness is the greatest thing in the world.
Now, I do believe there is something beyond all this, but I also think that many of us put way, way too much emphasis on how our actions will benefit ourselves. And when we don’t get what we think we deserve, we lash out at the world for it. We all do this. (I’d say, “And I the worst of all,” but even that is an egocentric view.)
Somehow, when I’m holding Sage’s hand in mine and she’s trying so hard to take steady steps forward to go find Mommy in the next room, or when I’m singing to Sage before a nap or bedtime and all she does is look up at me (and occasionally offer me her pacifier, which I choose to take as a generous offer to share a prized possession and not a desperate attempt to make Daddy shut up)… somehow, in these moments, I feel that the ideas that those screenwriters tapped into — those screenwriters who have their own personal lives in which things like this matter far beyond the paycheck they earn for writing entertainment for others…
Somehow, in those quiet moments of connection with my daughter, I believe that the ideas behind those quotes are a glimpse of a truth so important that I want Sage to understand it completely. That our days aren’t under our control, that we can fight for what we want forever and not get it, and that at the end of it all, the best things that we have done in life will be those that were kind and generous.