After rewatching The Sopranos in its entirety and then studying extensive theories about the final season before watching it one more time with a far more highly-tuned critical eye, I can’t stop reflecting on what I perceive its messages to be. I find myself mulling it over and over at all hours, to the point that I was up last night reading this lovely old piece in bed at 3 in the morning before hashing out this post, bleary eyed, stream-of-conscious style on my iPhone. I guess I’ll call it my review of the Sopranos? (That’s how I know it’s my favorite show ever. It’s still keeping me up thinking in the middle of the night after all these years.)
It’s all automatic, a ride where the track’s already been laid out and you can’t get off, where the entire journey’s pre-determined. We see all the same sights and make all the same stops, none of them unique, none of them superior – not a one. We cling to the delusion of agency because we’re desperate for it, but it’s a fantasy, and a pathetic one. You’ve got no say, you’ve got no control, you’ve got nothing resembling power; now: be okay despite it. Be joyous despite it. Be kind. Be generous. Be patient. Be loving. You’ve got no say, no; but that’s no excuse.
We worry all the time, as if every mundane instance hasn’t already been faced by all who have come before us, as if the fate of the world rests on what we do right here, right now, in this “crucial” moment. We live as if billions haven’t already had the same worries, and billions more won’t still be having them long after our time. Think of all the countless people who have come and gone: men and women who have stressed, agonized, made decisions, lived, loved, and died, and you’ve never heard of any of them, nor a single one of their deeds, right or wrong. It’s as if they never existed at all. No matter what they chose, what they did, in the end it was all washed away. Their impact was as non-existent as mine will be. And yours.
And that’s not depressing. Or at least it shouldn’t be. This notion that it all has to mean something, that it all has to be for something? It’s a crutch. We depend on an imagined overarching narrative of how exceptional and unique and meaningful it all is to blunt the reality that it’s not, really, at all. But why does that reality need blunting? We’re alive, for the briefest of moments, and then we’re not. In those brief moments we get to experience beautiful things, difficult things – life. We can until we can’t, because it’s all gone almost as soon as it arrives. If that’s not reason enough to live – and I mean LIVE live, really live, not “American Dream” live – then there’s no hope for us.
What you do with what little time you’ve got: that’s all there is. So enjoy it. Embrace all that comes with it. Do it while you can, before you’re gone. That’s living. That’s life.