Lately, Sudeikis told me, he had been trying to pay more attention to how he actually felt about any given thing, to all the various signs and omens that present themselves to a person during the course of living their life. Even in his past, he said, there were moments that were obvious in retrospect, in terms of what the universe was trying to tell him, messages he missed entirely at the time. In Vegas, where he was living with Cannon before Saturday Night Live, he developed alopecia and his hair stopped growing, and he didn’t know why. And then, at the end of his 30s, “during the nine months before Otis was born and the nine months after he was born,” Sudeikis developed extremely painful sciatica. “I went and got an MRI and was like, ‘Oh, yeah, the jelly doughnut in my L4, L5, is squirting out and touching a nerve.’” But why? When he had his second child, this didn’t happen at all. So: why?
“I mean, since last November,” Sudeikis said, “the joke that feels more like a parable to me is a guy is sitting at home watching TV and the news breaks in to say flash flood warning. About an hour later he goes outside on his porch and he sees that the whole street is flooded.” You’ve probably heard the rest of this joke before: While the guy is praying to God for some kind of help, a truck, a boat, and a chopper come by, offering aid, which the guy turns down. God’ll provide, he says. Sudeikis finished the joke: “Two hours after that, he’s in heaven. He’s dead. He says, ‘God, what’s up, man? You didn’t help me.’ God goes, ‘What do you mean, man? I sent you a pickup truck, I sent you a speedboat, I sent you a helicopter.’ ” So, Sudeikis said, “you can’t tell me that hair falling out of my head wasn’t—I don’t know if it was the speedboat or the pickup truck or the helicopter, but yeah, man, it all comes home to roost. What you resist persists.”
He went on. “That’s why I had sciatica,” he said. “That’s the speedboat. That was like: ‘Hey, you gotta take a look at your stuff.’”
And this is another way that Sudeikis and Ted Lasso are alike, because both are always learning and relearning this lesson, which is: Be curious. Both are philosophical men whose philosophies basically boil down to trying to live as decent a life as is possible. Not just for the sake of it but because to be curious—to find out something new about yourself or someone else—is to be empowered. “I don’t know if you remember G.I. Joe growing up,” Sudeikis said, “but they would always end it with a little saying: ‘Oh, now I know.’ ‘Don’t put a fork in the outlet.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because you could get hurt.’ ‘Oh, now I know.’ And then somebody would say, ‘And knowing is half the battle.’ And I agree with that—with kids, knowing is half the battle. But adulthood is doing something about it. That’s the other half. ‘I’m bad with names.’ ‘I’m always late.’ Oh! Well, knowing is half the battle. All right, so win the fucking battle by doing something about it! Get better at names. Show up five minutes early, make it a point to do it. So, I’m still learning these things. But hopefully I’ve got plenty of time to do something about it.”
Sudeikis smiled a little wearily: “I mean, at the end of that joke, the guy still got to go to heaven, you know?”
So: what are your trucks, speedboats, or helicopters?
What are the painfully obvious signs in your life that you should do something?