Look at what we can do - Part II (Sports Night)

Published by Iris in Inspired by, The Written Word,
Published on 07/21/09 at 12:02:35 am using 862 words.

Look at what we can do…

It seems fitting to get back on this train of thought on the July 20th that marks the 40th anniversary of a shining example of what we can do… Forty years ago today people converged in wide-eyed awe in front of their TV sets and marveled at the seeming impossibility of what they beheld while that sentence took hold of their minds and filled their hearts to the brim.

Around 10 years ago, an ill-fated sitcom I hold (a capitalized, italicized, boldfaced) DEAR called Sports Night brought that sentence to my attention in an episode called The Quality of Mercy at 29K, one of my all-time favorite TV moments. Its storylines unfolded in such a way as to culminate in that same sense of wonder… that elation tinged with regret that hits you whenever you’re faced with something beautiful that you believed impossible. As though you’re somehow out of the loop. Undeserving of a heads up. As though the first signs of something major and awe inspiring had for some reason chosen to elude you.

It happens to Dana Whitaker as she goes to a matinee of The Lion King on Broadway, wary of hoedowns and with all the enthusiasm of a Ben Stein, only to come out having found it on a par with a religious experience.

Dana: It was really quite something. The music began, and I just started to cry. I don’t know where that came from. It was like church. I didn’t know we could do that. Did you know we could do that?

It happens to Dan Rydell as he scours his workplace for ideas on how to become more charitable but fails to turn any of the myriad suggestions into action and goes on to learn a valuable, heartbreaking lesson from a homeless man.

Dan comes running in singing ‘Half a turkey sandwich’ over and over, as he picks up the sandwich. When he turns to leave, he sees a man in his office and stops immediately.

Dan: Whoa. How did you get up here?

(The man simply stares at Dan, not answering any questions)
You’re not supposed to be up here. Did they chase you out from downstairs? (The man nods slightly) All right, listen to me. You can’t stay here. There are people working here. You can’t stay here.

Elliot: Danny, Casey says… (he sees the man) Do you want me to call security?

Dan: (thinks) No. Elliot, it’s okay.

Elliot: Are you sure?

Dan: It’s all right.

Elliot: I’ll wait outside.

Dan: Thanks. I got a half a turkey sandwich. I tell you what. (Dan puts the sandwich on the table and pulls out a chair for the man, who watches without moving) I’m gonna sit with you, while you eat, and uh… I got to keep an eye on this monitor. I don’t know if you can see but two guys are about to reach the peak of Mount Everest. Once they do I got about two minutes to get back on the air. You got a name? All right, anyway… here’s your sandwich.

(Man starts to walk towards Dan, putting a hand in his pocket)
No, no no, you don’t have to pay me.

(Man flips open a switchblade. Danny stands up quickly)

Whoa, hey take it easy.

(Man uses the knife to cut the sandwich in half, and offers half of it to Dan.) Thanks.

Man: You’re welcome.

Dan: Why don’t we sit and watch this now?

Elliot: It’s happening.

Dan: We’re watching.

Corey: (on monitor) Six. Five feet. Five feet away now.

Dan: Look at what we can do.

Corey: Four feet. This is it!

Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reach the summit of Mount Everest - May 29th, 1953

Man on the Moon - July 20th, 1969

The Lion King

Dan: The thing is more people die of breast cancer every year than die of AIDS. More people die of diabetes. About 20 times as many die of heart disease, but the government doesn’t spend as much money researching those. It’s not that we shouldn’t be trying to cure AIDS. It’s just that we should be trying to cure everything. And if I’m dying of luekemia, I might well wonder where my red ribbon is. Why isn’t someone throwing me a pajama party at Barber’s?

Jeremy: Hey, I just got off the phone with Libby in Nepal. Corey’s 1500 feet from the summit.

Natalie: Two guys have ascended five miles into the sky. They walked up a wall of ice and are prepared to knock on the door of heaven itself. There’s really no end to what we can do. Know what the trick is?

Dan: What?

Natalie: Get in the game.

There’s really no end to what we can do, is there?

—— ∫ ——

Click here to check out Look at what we can do - Part I (The Brave One)

Currently shattering window panes with a rendition of…
The Band - The Weight/Music from Big Pink

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