It feels like all these beautiful pieces of life are flying around me and I’m trying to catch them. When my granddaughter falls asleep in my lap, I try to catch the feeling of her breathing against me. And when I make my son laugh, I try to catch the sound of him laughing. How it rolls up from his chest.
When This Is Us first debuted on NBC back in the fall of 2016, I didn’t really take note of it. For a number of reasons, we don’t really follow network television all that much anymore. By the time the show was added to Netflix some time last year, This Is Us had garnered some buzz and several of my friends raved about how great it is. So, I added it to my queue, but I didn’t really get around to watching it until quite recently.
And now I’m hooked.
Before I go any further, I should say that this blog post will contain some minor spoilers for the first season. If you haven’t watched This Is Us yet, I encourage you to bookmark this page and revisit when you’ve caught up to at least the mid-point of season one. That’s where I’m at right now, so please no spoilers for the second half of the first season (or any part of the second season) in the comments!
The excerpt above comes from the eighth episode of season one, titled “Pilgrim Rick.” It’s the Thanksgiving episode. In it, Kevin’s new girlfriend Olivia Maine asks Randall’s biological father William Hill what it feels like to be dying from cancer. Here are two characters in very different points in their respective lives and, understandably, they have vastly different perspectives on what life really means.
Instead, we should all learn how we can “seize common occasions and make them great.” These common occasions can be as ordinary as a child falling asleep in your lap, a loved one laughing at one of your jokes, or the few minutes you might spend people-watching with your kid at Starbucks. We oftentimes don’t realize just how grand these moments are until we look back at them years later.
But the pieces are moving faster now, and I can’t catch them all. I can feel them slipping through my fingertips. And soon where there used to be my granddaughter breathing and my son laughing, there will be nothing.
I think we all get to a point in our lives where we feel like life is passing us by. Some people have told me that I’m far too young to be going through a midlife crisis, but I very much get that sense that some pieces are slipping through my fingertips.”
So often, we go through life avoiding the inevitability of our own mortality. It’s such a taboo topic and it can be remarkably uncomfortable to discuss. A whole series of worries and concerns came flooding through my consciousness when my dad passed away three years ago. What does it all mean? Do I have the proper arrangements in place? Did he feel like he lived a good life?
I know it feels like you have all the time in the world. But you don’t. So, stop playing it so cool. Catch the moments of your life. Catch them while you’re young and quick. Because sooner than you know it, you’ll be old. And slow. And there’ll be no more of them to catch. And when a nice boy who adores you offers you pie, say thank you.
Perhaps a big part of the reason why we enjoy This Is Us so much is that it so effortlessly blends the hard questions of drama with the levity of comedy. It demonstrates that no matter how great life might look from the outside, we all have our demons and our challenges. This Is Us is a series that makes you think about the complexities and nuances of what it means to be human.
Let’s all heed the advice of William “Shakespeare” Hill and just enjoy life as it happens. Focus on the little things that truly matter. Catch the moments in your life every chance you get and cherish them dearly.