Today's Reading

We can all agree that this atmosphere is a little incredible, right? Rafiki is honoring the apex predator that feeds on all these animals (Mufasa) by presenting the next apex-predator legacy monster (Simba) who will not only feed on some of the very animals that are present, but also, probably, the children and grandchildren of those animals.

Imagine knowing that your current boss's son, no matter what, will eventually lord over you just because of "the circle of employment." Could you conjure up that kind of enthusiasm for your boss's son? I'm telling you right now that I super could not.

Anyway, the best part about this opening sequence is that, straight out of the gate, we get a sense of the royal hierarchy, the central players, and the primary character, Simba. Rafiki literally holds him up as a light shines on him.

Wouldn't life be better if all stories followed this template? You wouldn't have to trouble yourself with whether or not Duane from IT is someone you should spend time getting to know.

My point is, the best introductions tell you what is up concisely and creatively. You get a little bit of information with a side of entertainment. And truthfully, I just want a proper introduction and context on who I'm spending time with. Ever notice how some books jump right into things like we've been dropped into a noir crime novel?

"Gutshot and panicked, I arrived at the destination of my emotional abyss."

An opening line like this and I'm like, "Who is this gutshot person? And what abyss destination have we arrived at? Is it a Chuck E. Cheese? Or a metaphorical Chuck E. Cheese?"

Maybe I'm a simple man with simple desires, but I like to get to know someone before arriving at the destination of our emotional abysses together, you know what I mean?

For example, if we were meeting, I'd want to communicate the following in an effort to make a connection with you:

I am Knox, December-born, of the House McCoy, First of His Name Probably, Easily Burnt on Beaches, King of the Grill and the Barbecue Smoker and Allergic to Grass, Cats, and Shellfish, Breaker of Small Talk and Social Engagements at the Last Minute If at All Possible, and Father of Poorly Conceived Yet Ambitious Metaphors.

And now that we have that connection, you should probably also know that everything I know about life I learned in some part from The Wonder Years.

The theme song—Joe Cocker's cover of "With a Little Help from My Friends"—taught me the need for community.

The use of adult Kevin as younger Kevin's narrator made me aware that there might be an omniscient presence observing my life too. (Definitely God, but sometimes Santa too, and they probably compared notes.)

And remember how for a hot minute, everyone thought Josh Saviano, the actor who played Kevin's best friend Paul, grew up to be Marilyn Manson? That made me confront a reality in which the world of popular culture could fold neatly into the realm of spirituality and potential principalities of darkness.

As a kid, I spent a lot of time caught up in my own thoughts and chasing them around inside my head. I spent time parsing silly things like why Donkey Kong was called "donkey" when he was really a giant ape or how on earth Kevin Arnold could snag Winnie Cooper.

But I also tried deconstructing deeper questions, like who God was and what it was that he wanted from me. It was often pop culture that helped me fill in the gaps of my understanding—sometimes in hilarious ways, and sometimes in ways that were accidentally profound.

And that's what this book is about: how I navigated life in the time I call the wondering years.

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