Ron Swanson Made Me Cry

I haven’t blogged in a while because… because of many reasons. Laziness and fear of writing something stupid are probably the number 1 and 2 answers, but also, let’s add in seasonal depression and starting a new business. It took me two whole months to finish House of Cards, folks. TWO MONTHS. So, I mean, if that doesn’t give you a sense of how busy my life has been…

(Just don’t ask me how much time I’ve spent checking Buzzfeed.)

Seriously, don’t. It’s… disgusting. And wrong and sinful. I feel a need to repent over my Buzzfeed obsession. One one hand, I feel that crowd-sourced news is the devil (not an exaggeration) but on the other hand… damnit all if I don’t want to be reminded of the 90’s Nickelodeon shows I forgot existed.

I think one of the reasons it’s been so hard for me to write lately is that I’ve felt a little bit paralyzed by life. Which may seem a little dramatic, but keep in mind that I’ve just come out of the worst winter I’ve ever experienced (which is a scientific fact) so please excuse me if I’m a little prone to drama right now. Give me a couple of weeks and I’ll start talking like a normal person again.

In some ways (see: new business, noted above), life has been moving fast and it’s been really thrilling and awesome and I love it. But I’ve started feeling this sense that life comes to little breaking points along the way, where things change a lot. And sometimes, people change a lot. And that’s been scary to me. And so rather than process my feelings through writing and sharing with others, I’ve kind of resorted to being inside my own head. Or reading Buzzfeed.

So, not great. Although, on the plus side, I have learned that I belong in Barcelona and I’m Uncle Jesse on Full House (fair.).

Besides being busy, one of the reasons it took me so long to finish House of Cards was that my husband wouldn’t allow me to watch it without him (I know, right?! Awful. Unfortunately, we did not explicitly address “Netflix binge-watching etiquette” during pre-marital counseling and thus, we’re at an impasse). So, instead of watching that, I’ve also been watching other standby favorites like Parks and Recreation. Yes, it’s a silly comedy, but this season has driven me to tears many times – and not just like, glistening eyes… but real, legit, making-sounds-with-my-mouth tears. It started with the episode where Ann Perkins left Pawnee – not only leaving her job and her routine, but also her very best friend, Leslie Knope. This episode made me a cry like a small baby, because the thought of a good friend being a physical presence in your everyday life and then leaving is so sad. So beautiful, to see friends move on and keep exploring life. But so sad to see an easy, everyday friendship change forever. Thus, the tears. (Also, is everyone picking up on my subtle message to my Cult of Clair co-founder that she’s never ever ever allowed to move away, be it for a dream job or a dream man? never.)

This past weekend, I was catching up on last week’s episode, which centered around Leslie planning a high school prom – but was really about Leslie thinking about her future and planning her replacement. She found a young girl who was very similar to her in personality and temperament, and tried to mold her into a junior version of herself. Knowing that she would likely be leaving Pawnee in the near future, she wanted to make sure that someone just like her was ready to take her place, so that no part of the future would be uncertain, and that no part would be different from when she was working there.

*I’m just now realizing that, if you don’t watch Parks and Rec, you probably aren’t following, but just stick with me. And why aren’t you watching?? It’s so good.*

At the end of the episode, Leslie and her co-worker and mentor/friend Ron have a heart-to-heart about the future, which starts with Leslie expressing how worried she is about the future not being like she wants it to be, and he says:

“One day, this year, or maybe the next, you’re going to be somewhere else. So enjoy yourself now.”

And then Leslie says:

“Damnit. I just wish that once, you would say something stupid so I could ignore it.”

Ron’s line about the future got me. It GOT ME. Why? Well, first, because show creator Amy Poehler is both a genius and my spirit animal.

But also, because although Parks and Rec is a silly show, it speaks deeply to me on an emotional level, because the main character is a person whose silliness and eccentricities are born out of a desire to keep good things intact. Yes, her actions can be ridiculous, but her heart is one that wants the best for her own life and the lives of those she loves.

Lately, I’ve spent a lot of my mental energy thinking about the future. And while I say “thinking,” maybe the more accurate word is “obsessing.”

There are so many questions bouncing around in my brain, and I’m learning that they don’t get answered very quickly. They actually get answered in very slow fashion, normally. And as much as I want my questions to be answered, and as much as I want my life to change in the.exact.ways.I.want.it.to.change, I also find myself feeling so afraid of change that’s out of my control.

But Ron Swanson’s words spoke to me. He was basically saying, yes… things are gonna change. And that’s OK. Rather than spending my life freaking out about ensuring that my future is exactly how I want it to be (hahahahhahahahaha I’m an idiot), it’s OK to just live in the life that I have right now. It’s not only possible that things will change – it’s certain. This idea that I can obsess about and manipulate my future – or other peoples’ futures – is a little… nuts.

It’s hard. And the idea that life will change is sometimes sad and frustrating, but, it’s how it is. Seeing a nutty, caricature of a character like Leslie Knope fight change makes it seem so silly – until I realize that I do the very same things. It’s really so simple, but so profound. You can try and try and try, but we can’t really control very much.

I’m at a place in life right now where Ron’s words are both liberating and heart-wrenching. I feel a mixture of relief over the idea that I can’t control everything, and sadness/anxiety that things are going to keep on changing and there’s not much I can do about it. So I can’t say that I’ve learned anything about how to deal with change and the promise (and threat) of change, but I do feel some sense of peace that other people are experiencing it, too. That it’s OK to hear the words that “things are going to change” and not be sure how to feel – other than feeling all cry-y and emotional. It’s OK.

Me, Leslie Knope, and I’m hoping, some of you. (If not, it’s just me and a TV character so NO BIG DEAL).

 

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