Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Duke of Yosemite

There is a Merrie Melodies cartoon from 1960 starring Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam called From Hare to Heir. In this one, Sam plays the Duke of Yosemite, the royal nephew of the king of England. When he learns that the king has cut him off from the royal fortune, he characteristically blows his top and goes storming about his castle taking out his displeasure on his household servants. At that point Bugs shows up and offers Sam one million pounds if he can rein in his temper. As a penalty, every time Sam has an episode, Bugs deducts some money from the one million pounds. Throughout the short, Bugs continues to provoke and enrage Sam, which causes the Duke to try harder to rid himself of his Leporidae bane. Of course Sam's traps and stunts fail, causing his anger fits to grow in intensity and frequency.

At the end, Sam finally learns how to stay calm in any and all situations and bear whatever comes his way. It is only at this moment that Bugs looks into the camera and the cartoon ends as he tells the audience, "I haven't got the heart to tell him that he's used up all the money."

This cartoon is one that resonates with me as a father of a now 17 year old child. The other day my daughter mentioned to me that she has been doing some research to select a college. That brief conversation made me feel like old Sam, having finally figured some things out about parenting and raising a daughter, only to learn that her childhood is pretty much over. This realization is one that I have been trying to come to grips with for a while, but the more I try to make peace with this fact, the more I feel like I wish I had more time with my daughter before she moves on. More time to be silly and let go. Less time to grumble and worry. More time to laugh and pretend. Less time to be serious and anxious. More time to give and less time to take.

Nearly five years ago, I wrote a post entitled Tape Balls and Other Lessons, where I talked about some of these same issues of being in the moment and living life with my daughter to the fullest. As I look back over the intervening years that feel like so long ago, I somehow feel like I fell woefully short of my goals. Sometimes I am haunted with regret that I missed out on so much of this most precious time in our lives because of circumstances and my own burdens, concerns, and choices. This is where Bugs looks into the camera and says, "I haven't got the heart to tell him that he's used up all his time."