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January 29, 2009

A Curious Case of Human Nature

Clock Days after watching THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, after leaving the dark, escapist theater where I shed more than a few tears, after returning home to pick up the kids, do homework, dinner, dishes and bedtime, I still suffered from a lingering sense of melancholy.  I knew it was just a movie, a movie based on an impossible conceit no less, but I was disturbed by how watching a man age in reverse made me feel about my own life. 

I’d heard of people who came close to death and returned with a new appreciation of living; their priorities simply and suddenly in check. Benjamin, having been born old and frail, was like one of those people. He had an unusual perspective that allowed him to understand early on the fleeting nature of the journey.  He drank life in the way his tugboat captain drank his liquor.  Daisy, on the other hand, had a less illuminated purview.  She, like me, like most I presume, lived in denial of the finite while living very much in fear of it. 

She wasted time, focusing on the frivolous and the immediate, fighting off the specter of death with each impulsive, life-affirming pleasure.  While Benjamin walked, taking in all of what life had to offer, Daisy ran her race in a constant state of want, never opting for a moment of peace.

When I was young, I couldn’t wait to be an adult.  When I was just out of college, I couldn’t wait to find a soul mate and success. After I had babies, I couldn’t wait for them to grow older.  I always focused on what came next, hoping it would be there that I would finally be satisfied.  Older people warned me I would miss the days I so often bemoaned, advising me to find happiness in the present.   But like Daisy, I didn’t listen.  I didn’t know how. 

Benjamin Button marveled at the very things I wished away.  Always mindful of the journey, he took pleasure in the gift of the mundane, the beauty of the everyday.  I realized this is what made me sad.

I’d like to tell you that as of this epiphany, I stopped frittering away my days and started making every moment count.  That I spend less time on Facebook and more with my kids.  That I cook thoughtful meals for them and accept their immaturity with patience and grace.  That I feverishly pursue lifelong dreams and have nightly bed-breaking sex with my husband.

I’d like to tell you that, but I can’t.

My days are still fueled by to-do lists instead of passions.  I still defrost dinner and yell at my kids.   I still ignore my husband’s needs as often as possible.

Such is the curious case of human nature, I suppose.

This is an original post to LA Mom's Blog.

Fran B. is a writer, mother and wife living in Los Angeles.  You can hear all about how she yells at her kids and gets out of sex with her husband at her personal blog, www.merlotmom.com.


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