Once upon a time, there was boy. More than anything – including the ability to consistently hit a baseball – the boy wanted to be in love. Figuratively and literally, the boy struck out a lot, made a lot of weak contact. We never think of awkwardness as a skill, but by his middle teens, the boy had raised awkwardness to an art form which he (and likely no one else) would not appreciate until well into his middle twenties. When the boy became a man, he learned to curb this first ability, but would soon find he had developed two more gifts: an analytical mind and self-awareness. These two would conspire to eventually ruin all of the man’s romantic relationships. He would go on to name the simultaneous use of these gifts “practical paranoia.” This behavior would both keep him out of trouble and get him into trouble.
The man was aware of his numerous shortcomings, but understood the truth that the root of his troubles on the romantic front stemmed from the simple fact that he could not shut his brain off. He could not not engage the voice in his head. It said many things to him. She probably doesn’t like you, anyway. You’re wasting your time. Why would you say that? MAKEAMOVE. And when the man would debate with this inner voice, he would do nothing, and so many moments would pass him by. Then she’s gone or it’s late or not tonight or something that the man could trace back to his inaction. He would go on to despise Hamlet because that was easier than despising himself. Why, what an ass was he!
Today, the man is in his middle thirties. Time has passed, but his mind is just as analytical, his self just as aware. He does not remember when it happened, but he knows that something in him has changed. He has come to choose his wife and daughter over himself over and over, and he does not completely understand why. It does not make sense to him in a way he can articulate and this bugs the hell out of him. What he knows is that if someone offered the him a choice between watching his favorite baseball team in the World Series or being able to play with his daughter the first time she sees snow, he will choose the latter without hesitation. He does not understand why taking 200 pictures of his wife and daughter at a water park bring him so much joy. In fact, when he thinks about how much happiness he derives from such activities, the man is saddened. Is this all there is? that familiar voice says. The man does not know, though he suspects the answer is yes. The man’s sadness deepens.
But the sadness does not last. There will always come the laughter of man’s daughter, the smile of the man’s wife. The man calls out to the voice in his head. What if this is all there is? the man asks the voice. The voice does not answer. All I ever wanted was to be in love, remember? the man says. The voice does not argue.