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Eucatastrophe in Everyday Life: A New Year’s Resolution

Giulia Barta

Kathryn from 'Through a Glass Brightly' - published on 01/02/14

Bless you, Coca-Cola, for this spontaneous act of beauty - it's exactly what I needed to start 2014.

If you haven’t laugh/cried or cry/laughed in a while, this is your chance. I want to start with a big *thank you* to whichever one of my Facebook friends posted this Argentine ad for the new drink, “Coca-Cola Life,” so that I could find it and celebrate it. It is the greatest sixty seconds I’ve ever spent after scrolling through my feed at the end of a hard day—the kind day so perfectly captured by the ad itself. Here it is (be sure to activate the sound):

Ok, go ahead and dry your sopping wet smiley face; and feel free to watch it multiple times in a row. There’s more to notice with each repeated viewing, and the brilliance of it shines brighter and brighter. It packs as much emotional punch as Don Draper’s Kodak Carousel pitch which sent Harry Crane hurrying out of the conference room in tears.

I think it is perfect in every way. It tells a funny, profound, sympathetic, and inspiring story in a single glorious minute. And the execution of the twist at the end is remarkably effective. You parents know all too well what this young couple feels in each little glimpse into their lives: the joyful expectation, then the utter transformation of the world you once knew with your beloved spouse; all new levels of clutter from baby gear and exhaustion from interrupted sleep; heart-wrenching moments of longing for the easiness of life before and of absolute terror when your little one suddenly disappears and you go looking; a moment as simple as sitting down to lunch disappointed by affectionate pummeling of your head.

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KIDS ARE SO HARD. Sometimes, it’s so overwhelming that you (…I) have to scream into a pillow. Lately, I’ve enjoyed sliding up to other parents at parties or after Mass just to say, “Parenting is the hardest thing ever,” and then relishing their unanimous reaction of a breathy, “Yeah-oh my gosh-it really is-wow,” with that stare and the light head shake as they suddenly relive it all. That is exactly where we find this young couple near the end of the ad when the wife reveals the positive pregnancy test. They feel like they are barely surviving each impossible day and now there is about to be twice as much of all of it.

I’m very pleased with the way the wife is depicted in that shot. She realizes that this might not be the best time to break the news and her facial expression is just vacant—as if she is waiting for her husband to supply the correct emotion. What will he do? What will he say? What do I feel? What should I say? It’s like she can’t even know her own heart without him. They are one flesh, after all; and this new child is not theirs individually but theirs together. I had this exact experience. My husband and I still felt newly married while I was working hard (in a very enjoyable job) to supplement our graduate student stipend and our NFP efforts started to lack their former diligence. "I think you’re pregnant," he told me one day. "Shh!," I hissed, shooting him a panicked, deer-in-the-headlight look. "Don’t even say that out loud. It’s not a good time!" Then next day, there it was: a plus sign so clear it seemed to have a giant exclamation mark beside it. That hollow, petrified look is the same one I gave my husband. I needed his help to know how to be in response to such an enormous revelation. I see myself in that actress. What a performance.

Now to the husband. Someone, please give that man a CLIO or an Emmy or whatever award they have in Argentina for his acting in this moment: first the shock and alarm as he eyes the positive test while downing the drink, then the musically-cued shriek freighted with all of the anxiety and helplessness of the whole world gathered together in one terrified father. I totally expected the ad to cut to black at the peak of that scream while the song continued to play (its lyrics made ironic) and the Coca-Cola logo gently faded in:

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