Thursday, July 22, 2010

Life or Pancakes?

Love this little exchange in the movie, Stranger Than Fiction, after Dr. Hilbert (played by Dustin Hoffman) has just told Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) that his impending death is inevitable so Harold should go and do some of the things he's always wanted to do until his certain demise takes him. Harold's first thought, of course, is that he wants to live.

Dr. Jules Hilbert: Hell Harold, you could just eat nothing but pancakes if you wanted.

Harold Crick: What is wrong with you? Hey, I don't want to eat nothing but pancakes, I want to live! I mean, who in their right mind in a choice between pancakes and living chooses pancakes?

Dr. Jules Hilbert: Harold, if you pause to think, you'd realize that that answer is inextricably contingent upon the type of life being led... and, of course, the quality of the pancakes.

Truth of the matter is, much of the time, I may as well be eating the pancakes. Now, I'm not saying that I, or anyone else for that matter, need to be running down a daily/weekly/monthly to-do list, and certainly not someone else's to-do list, to fulfill some nebulous life productivity requirement. That's just spinning wheels... well, a lot of the time it is. Often times, the right thing to do might be to... take a nap, complete a Sudoku, or be still and know that God Is. However, way too much of my time seems to be spent just making the hours go by until it's finally time to do that one thing I've been waiting to do. In the meantime, I miss so much.

There were several times when I was younger and even more recently, I promised myself, "I'm going to stop taking so much for granted. This is life. Live it." Broken promises. Some things, sure, I throw myself into - at least when I'm of that mindset. But there's always so much else i could be doing.

I always say I want to be writing novels, songs, shorts -- yet I'll go weeks without writing.

People I love and care for have asked me to pray diligently for them -- I'll go days or weeks without praying.

I want to fish more -- but I don't ever go fishing.

I've sworn I'm going to learn to play that guitar in my room -- but I hardly touch it.

I've got friends -- but they reach out to me far more than I reach to them.

I say "I love you, God" -- but keep Him at arm's length.

Now, I've gotten pretty good at some video games, and I can probably win a few television trivia contests. And please, quiz me on Dolphin football, Reds baseball, or Auburn sports. In and of themselves, all of those things are alright - and some uniquely part of me. But here's a confession - since I was divorced, I moved into a house in a neighborhood and have lived there almost two years... and I can't tell you the name of one other person (except the last names of the neighbors to my left because their name's on their mailbox and sometimes I get their mail) in the whole dad gum neighborhood. Well, maybe one or two of the kids - but that's it. We're to love our neighbors -- and everyone's our neighbors -- but hell, Rich, your neighbors are your neighbors!!!

That stack of pancakes is starting to look awful good.

In the end, I guess I can sum it up in a famous one-liner from another great movie:

Andy Dufresne: Get busy living, or get busy dying.


Milly said...

I had to pause a movie to read this but hey when you see pancakes you pause to look at them and take the time to read about why you are looking at them.

I do know my neighbor next to me because our children dragged us into each other’s lives with mud throwing and a sleepover and we are now stuck being friends. In a very good way.

I just wonder this-Are we to find lives that don’t involve children and sitting at home with a book or a movie after divorce? I think I may need to get out and see to the world. Later, that is, tonight is watch movies and read night. I’m alone, well I do have that dog with three legs keeping me company, (I wonder where she is) the kids are with their dad for a few days.

The latest of anything that I have written was about my sister. I haven’t picked up a pen for anything but to fill out paperwork or a check in a while. I was asked if I have submitted anything yet, then told that I should. I think I’ll look into it.
I ponder moving more things into my house and how I need to do more if I am to get her place ready to rent. Dear God when we die people look through our things and decide what to keep and what not to keep. She was no writer so I look and long to see something more. When I die my kids are going to have lots of reading and they are going to think “Dear God what the heck with mom! Yiks! She wrote this stuff!”
God and I have an understanding right now. I’m not angry, no . . . I’m sad and hurt so we talk about that but I’m holding Him accountable for her well being in where ever heaven is. I’ve pictured my mom shaking a fist at God for my sister’s death telling how hard it would be on all of us... yet . . . she’s happy to have her in the heavenly home.

My neighbor’s on the other side of me have the house on the market. I might get to know them. I think the man who lives across the street is named Bob. Well in my mind his name is Bob. I wonder what I should call his wife?

Rich said...

If memory serves, Milly, "Bobs'" wives are always named "Judy." :)

Anonymous said...

There are only two other houses on my road. Bill lives at the dead end and is happy riding his tractor and feeding his chickens. Ed and Adelaide live in the other house and they have a new puppy, Guinevere. Had coffee with them yesterday.

But when I look at my two teenagers lately, I think, pass the syrup, please.


Milly said...

Judy it is.

Anonymous said...

English is not my primary language, but I can fully understand it while using google translator. Amazing article, have them coming! Give thanks!