There are a few scenes in one of my favorite movies, Parenthood, that always move me no matter how many times I watch the film. In one scene Gil, a middle-aged father played by Steve Martin, is complaining about his complicated and stressful life when Grandma enters the room. Seemingly unknowingly she interrupts saying:
You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster . . . up, down, up, down. Oh, What a ride!
Gil responds indifferently as she continues:
I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.
This ride we have been on with Calvin sure ain't no merry-go-round. Although our day-to-day routine is now often monotonous we have been through cork-screw turns and vertical climbs only to plunge head first into depths with such force it was hard to know whether we could hold on; all this because of Calvin.
Grandma's story struck a chord with me the very first time I heard it over twenty years ago. I've not expected or hoped for my existence to be mapped out and predictable but rather regard uncertainty as an adventure to relish. And because of Calvin I have been fortunate to experience, and honor, the full depth of my emotions, from utter despair to the kind of sheer joy that I otherwise may never have known if it weren't for him.
I too prefer the roller coaster to the merry-go-round; that ride just makes me sick.
Originally published 10.24.10.
|photo by Michael Kolster|