In The Nothing, my emotions are very near the surface and I feel very raw as I take tentative steps away from the abyss and into the vast unknown. Often times, there are not a lot of words and tears are quick to surface without much effort.
Given that it is still winter break and my daughter has been home from school, I have taken the opportunity to spend a lot of time with her, enjoying her company, and doing things she loves to do. One of those things is watching How I Met Your Mother on Netflix. About halfway through season 8, she said to me, “Ya know, sometimes these episodes are really meaningful and other times they’re just plain silly.” Then, yesterday afternoon, she asked me if I wanted to finish the last few episodes of season 8 so we could meet “mother.” We turned on the series where we had left off and, during episode 20, we watched as Ted shared that he had lost all hope.
I could feel Kaitlyn watching me as I dangled off the cliffs over the abyss of The Nothing. “Momma,” she asked, “are ya sure you wanna watch these today?”
“Yes… I’m just going to cry through them.”
So, cry, I did.
I cried when it was funny. I cried when it was sad. I cried when “mother” finally made her appearance because I knew, then, that Ted would finally find his “person.”
Life is not like that, though. We don’t get to see all the different angles all at once. We don’t get to watch what the future “someones” are doing or see the choices they’re making or where they are going. We don’t get to know, in the moment, whose paths we are crossing at the time. We don’t get to see how many times that yellow umbrella has been near us or have the experience of sitting with our future selves and hearing their point of view or receiving encouragement from them.
No. Life isn’t a sitcom.
So, as I watched and listened as Barney said to Ted, “Ted, this moment already is gone. The whole Minnesota Tidal-wave thing happened five years ago; it’s just a memory. And the rest of this never happened. Right now, Marshall and Lily are upstairs trying to get Marvin to go back to sleep. Robin and I are trying to decide on a caterer. And you’ve been sitting here all night, staring at a single ticket to ‘Robots vs. Wrestlers’ because the rest of us couldn’t come out. Look around, Ted. You’re all alone.”
Tears spilled down my cheeks, uncontrolled and gentle. I listened as Ted told his children in 2030 what he would do if he could go back in time to revisit that night in April, 2013. I watched as he ran through the streets to go to “Mother’s” place. And I sobbed as he said, “Exactly 45 days from now, you and I are going to meet and we’re going to fall in love and we’re going to get married and we’re going to have 2 kids and we’re going to love them and each other so much. All that is 45 days away, but I’m here now I guess because I want those extra 45 days with you. I want each one of them…”
Kaitlyn softly said, “Yeah… see… sometimes they’re silly and sometimes they’re really meaningful. Ya okay, Momma?”
I nodded and I cried.
Life is not a sitcom. It is not scripted. There is no one doing the voiceover narration. There is no music to cue the emotion the director wants to convey or flash-forwards to give a hint about what to expect.
And, in The Nothing, there is merely experiencing life in all its beautiful, intense glory.
While I know I don’t want to know the future – because, really, life is about the journey and the experience in every moment – it would be really nice to know if my yellow umbrella was only 45 days away…
I always welcome your thoughts, questions, and comments.
Feel free to jot down what you’re thinking in the comment box below.