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, turn two and eat sunflower seeds without using his hands.
"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 watch, at least once, as the pocket collapses around John Elway, and it's fourth-and-never. Or as the count goes to 3 and 1 on Mark McGwire with bases loaded, and the pitcher begins wishing he'd gone on to med school. Or as a little hole you couldn't get a skateboard through suddenly opens in front of Jeff Gordon with a lap to go.
"We're here to wear our favorite sweat-soaked Boston Red Sox cap, torn Slippery Rock sweatshirt and the Converses 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 rake on a jack-high nothin' hand and have nobody know it but us. Or get in at least one really good brawl, get a nice shiner and end up throwing an arm around the guy who gave it to us.
"We're here to shoot a six-point elk and finally get the f-stop right, or to tie the perfect fly, make the perfect cast, catch absolutely nothing and still call it a perfect morning.
"We're here to nail a yield sign with an apple core from half a block away. We're here to make our dog bite on the same lame fake throw for the gazillionth time. We're here to win the stuffed bear or go broke trying.
"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 the coach when Wendell, the one whose glasses always fog up, finally makes the only perfect backdoor pass all season. We're here to be there when our kid has three goals and an assist. And especially when he doesn't.