I have these goofy moments of hyper-consciousness (maybe you have them too; I bet you do; they’re weird, right?) when me and the kids are in the house and there’s this stretch, this weird heavy burden, of six hours hovering in front of us, and we don’t know what to do. I mean, we have absolutely no flipping idea what we’re going to do. Periodically, one of us will say, “What do you want to do?” and the other two will say, “I don’t know,” and, I’m telling you, the room is electrified with a jolting current of bored crisis.
I need to interrupt this crisis to tell you that I don’t spend any time at all wondering if I’m a good or bad parent. There’s a rumor going around that this is what we’re supposed to be really super worried about, but I don’t even care and I’ll tell you why. Because I’m a grown man and, most of the time, I forget I even have parents (sorry, mom; I love you; I mean I forget you in a good way; I’ll call you later). Why should I care if I’m a good or bad parent? In a few years, these kids are going to be adults immersed in their very own super-dramas, and it’s not like they’re going to look at their “What Would Dad Do?” bracelets. I’ll be lucky if I float through their heads on holidays. It’s hard to explain. I guess I just think that being overly concerned with being a good parent is more about the parent’s ego than the actual kids being parented. You’re welcome to disagree with me on this point because I don’t really worry about you either.
So the crisis doesn’t erupt from fear that I need to do the right thing in order to be a good parent. It runs deeper than that. It’s more of a collective crisis that grasps me and my kids and rattles our bones with dread and nausea. It’s like my son is Sartre, and my daughter’s Kierkegaard, and I’m Nietzsche (because I called Nietzsche and I’m the one who’s writing the essay so I get to be Nietzsche) and the fact of our existence is all up in our grills, you know? And it’s screaming: “YOU ARE FINITE BEINGS WHO WILL ONE DAY PERISH! WHAT’S WORTH DOING?” — and we don’t know, man; we got no clue so we just smoke cigarettes and stare at our mobile devices, paralyzed by the looming specter of our terrible freedom. We don’t really smoke cigarettes.
We have no essence. We have no essence. We have no essence. How can you be so calm? Why aren’t you freaking out?
So then my friend Jimmy says, “Let’s go play frisbee,” and who are we, seriously, to object to playing frisbee? I mean, none of us are in a position to critique frisbee on ethical grounds and, as already noted, none of us know what we want to do. Maybe, we want to play frisbee. How can we even know until we give it a try and then assess the activity in retrospect? We can’t. There is no foundation upon which we can not play frisbee and be justified. And so we do. We go play frisbee. We throw it and sprint and catch it and drop it and fall and laugh and take big slugs off water bottles and pant.
Soon, the six hours evaporate. It’s time to take the kids home, and we learn, in retrospect, that we did indeed want to play frisbee. Now, perhaps you’re waiting for some moral or lesson, but I’m sorry: it doesn’t exist. Anything could’ve happened this afternoon. ANYTHING. And the fact that frisbee happened proves nothing apart from the fact that frisbee happened. We could’ve went horseback riding or solved a homicide that had baffled local police for decades. SOMETHING is going to happen until we one day perish, and I suspect we’ll never know with certainty what’s worth doing. My guess is that the very best we can hope for is some loyal company with whom to share this mess of freedom and crises and, in addition, people who will risk the leap and toss a frisbee.
Read more from me at Black Hockey Jesus.
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