Why Are We Here?
So we were lying on our backs on the grass in the park next
to our hamburger wrappers, my 14-year-old son and I,
watching the clouds loiter overhead, when he asked me, “Dad,
why are we here?”
And this is what I said:
“I’ve thought a lot about it, son, and I don’t think it’s
all that complicated. I think maybe we’re here just to teach
a kid how to bunt or eat sunflower seeds without using his
“We’re here to pound the steering wheel and scream as we
listen to the game on the radio, 20 minutes after we pulled
into the garage. We’re here to look all over, give up, and
then find the ball in the hole.
“We’re here to wear our favorite sweat-soaked Boston Red Sox
cap, torn Slippery Rock sweatshirt, and the Converse
sneakers we lettered in on a Saturday morning with nowhere
we have to go and no one special we have to be.
“We’re here to tie the perfect fly, make the perfect cast,
catch absolutely nothing, and still call it a perfect
“We’re here to nail a yield sign with an apple core from
half a block away. We’re here to win the stuffed bear or go
“I don’t think the meaning of life is gnashing our bicuspids
over what comes after death but tasting all the tiny moments
that come before it. We’re here to be there when our kid has
three goals and an assist. And especially when he doesn’t.
“I don’t think we’re here to make SportsCenter. The really
good stuff never does. Like finding ourselves with a free
afternoon, a little red 327 fuel-injected 1962 Corvette
convertible, and an unopened map of Vermont’s backroads.
“None of us will find ourselves on our deathbeds saying, ‘I
wish I’d spent more time on the Hibbings account.’ We’re
going to say, ‘That scar? I got that scar stealing a home
run from Consolidated Plumbers!’
“See, grown-ups spend so much time doggedly slaving toward
the better car, the perfect house, the big day that will
finally make them happy, when happy just walked by wearing a
bicycle helmet two sizes too big for him. We’re not here to
find a way to heaven. The way is heaven.
“Does that answer your question, son?”
And he said, “Not really, Dad.”
And I said, “No?”
And he said, “No, what I meant is, why are we here when Mom
said to pick her up 40 minutes ago?”