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Saturday, June 28, 2003

Shannon and I finally got to see Finding Nemo last night, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Fie upon those of you who dared to qualify your recommendations! Fie, Will! Fie! It was THE GREATEST MOVIE ABOUT CLOWNFISH EVER MADE!

My experience at the film was enhanced by two factors. First, I was exhausted to the point of being bleary-eyed, as a result of working 20 hours a day for a couple of days. When you're that tired, every emotion is right at the surface, and even the slightest danger seems like a crisis. Thus, this wasn't a cute film about fish, it was an epic about family and loss, straight out of Chekhov.

The second factor was that I was very aware that I was watching a film about a dad trying to take care of his little one, and that hit a chord with me. It hit that chord hard. With a hammer. And it kept hitting it again and again and again. So, of course, tears were streaming down my face during several scenes of the movie, and Shannon was getting a real charge out of seeing me get so choked up (less so over the talking fish movie itself). It was one of the few times in my life that I ever truly experienced catharsis -- not sympathy, not admiration, but the religious (or semi-religious) experience of perfect harmony of emotion that was the goal of Greek tragedy.

It's safe to say that the big story in my life for the last six and a half months has been the stress, fear, anxiety and nausea that has accompanied Jonah's arrival in the world. Nothing in my life to date prepared me for the feeling that washes over me every time I think of the little guy. Such love, such compassion, such hope, and a gut feeling of pure acid that flushes through my gut. Even right this moment, I hear him chattering in the next room, and I get misty-eyed with love and fear. I'm in a new city, a new job, a new house and I've got a little guy to watch after. It's not even that I feel more trapped than I have ever felt; it's that I never even understood that it was possible for a human to feel like this.

On the night Jonah was born, I called from the delivery room to cancel some tickets that we had at a local theater. We had asked the theater company to waive their normal cancellation policy because Shannon could pop at any time, and they had good-naturedly agreed to do it. When I called the guy to let him know that we couldn't come, he suddenly became the most effusive, positive man I have ever met, and told me some things that I was going to need to know as a new father. This man -- who had the peculiar habit of talking in 50's beatnik-speak -- said to me:

"Baby -- you're gonna find places inside yourself you never even knew you had."

I instinctively knew when he said it that he was right, and the truth of those words has been proven again and again.

Or maybe I'm just tired.

So. Things I learned from "Finding Nemo":
1. The key to real estate is location, location, location.
2. Not all people with short-term memory loss are tattooed killers seeking revenge.
3. Even as a fish, Willem Dafoe is menacing.
4. You have to let kids learn to be bold, try things themselves, and not get discouraged or fearful. And you have to be the role model for that, whether you're ready or not.
5. Sell your Disney stock, because when Pixar negotiates their new contract with them, they're going to drive one hell of a hard bargain.

 8:39 PM

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