Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Theater Bug- It Has Quite a Bite!

Brian was upset. He came home from school crying that he had to be a flower in the upcoming production of “Mother Goose” in his Apple Pie Ridge Elementary School kindergarten class spring production. Through tears, he sobbed that he didn’t want to be a boring flower, but a blackbird who flies out of the pie. His best friend, Leslie, was going to be a blackbird, and he wanted to be one, too. He was inconsolable, and I couldn’t get him to accept any of my good reasons for him to be a flower. Finally, my persuasion not working, I took another tack. I told Brian that if he really wanted to be a blackbird, he should talk to his teacher about it.

I look back at this event as the beginning of Brian’s way of doing things. He now affectionately labels it as DIYODS. I think most people reading this blog probably recognize what this stands for, and those who know Brian are nodding their heads in agreement and laughing as they read this. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when he had the conversation with his kindergarten teacher, as he convinced her to change his part in the play from flower to blackbird. I’ll never forget the sunbeams on his face the day of the play when he and Leslie exuberantly burst from the big blackberry pie, flapping their wings and “flying” around and around on the stage. It really was a better part than the flower would have been. All the flowers could do were stand in one spot and sway in the breeze. Of course, the applause was deafening, as Leslie’s family and ours gave the blackbirds a standing ovation and whooped and hollered for our little blackbirds. After this performance, there was no stopping Brian. He searched out parts in school plays and church pageants, and I found myself his biggest fan. He even filmed a movie after receiving his first video camera, “Shaggy Locks and the Three Bears”, starring his and Wade’s dogs, Shaggy and Dusty. He was on his way!

All of these memories surfaced this last week as Phil and I attended a production of “Willy Wonka Junior”, which was performed by a local middle school drama club. Our friend, Olivia, had a part in the play, and she invited us to come. I looked forward to going to the performance from the day she told us about it, and I was as excited about going as I used to be to seeing Brian’s plays. As I watched her on the stage, I noticed how comfortable she was in her role, and how natural and convincing she was as she brought her character to life. I knew that she, like Brian, had been bitten by the bug. After the performance, she was glowing, and for good reason. She was great! I hope that she, like Brian, will doggedly pursue her passion and seek her bliss as she experiences more opportunities to be on the stage.

And I’d like to think that I’ll be in the audience.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Is It Time Yet?

I don’t wear a watch anymore. When I was laid off from my previous job three years ago, I took off my watch upon arriving home that morning, and laid it on the kitchen counter. I never saw it again after that. I never knew what happened to it, but I didn’t worry about it, because it was a cheap K-Mart watch I had bought for less than $10, and since I no longer had a job and no place to go every morning, I wasn’t in any hurry to replace it. Time wasn’t as important as it had been that morning when I had gotten up to go to work, and I had no need of a timepiece.

I remember my first watch. It had Cinderella on its face. It had to be wound every day or it would stop ticking, and the little mouse on the second hand would stop going round and round. I received it for Christmas when I was about seven years old. I wore it until it quit running –I think the winding spring probably broke- and then replaced it with something newer and better. From that time until this fateful day in 2009, I always had a watch on my wrist, unless, of course, my arm was in the water! I never considered myself fully dressed until I placed my watch of the day onto my right wrist. I felt naked without it.

Now that I don’t wear a watch, I have become aware of how many time-keepers there are at my beck and call all the time. My computer has a clock. My cell phone has a clock. My car has a clock. In my house, clocks are everywhere – on the computer, the t.v., the coffee maker, the stove, the microwave, the thermostat, the cd player. In addition, a couple of honest-to-God clocks sit on my bookshelves. There is hardly a minute that passes that I can’t check somewhere to see what time it is.

We are captives to the passing of time. The clock tells us when it’s time to get up, how much time we have to get dressed and out of the door to go to work, what time to eat our meals, when our meetings and appointments are scheduled, and what time everything starts and ends. We set the timer for the cooking time of our microwave meals, and our coffeemakers so that coffee is brewed and ready when we get out of bed in the morning. Time, time, time. What time is it? How much time do I have? How long will it take? When will we be there? These are all questions that our abundance of clocks answer for us.

I remember a tubing trip I took many years ago down the Shenandoah River. We started out at 9:30 in the morning. I took my watch off and left it in the car, and hopped into my huge inner tube. It was a lovely summer morning, and the river was lazily peaceful. The plan was to tube down the river several miles to the place where our second car was parked. The water was cool and fresh, the sun was warm and comforting, and the sky was bright blue with a few puffy clouds drifting across. My companion and I were mostly quiet as we drifted down the river; occasionally, we’d speak to one another to comment about something we were seeing or passing. Mostly, I was lost in my thoughts and daydreams. I was surprised when we reached the spot for leaving the river. It didn’t seem like hardly any time had passed since we had begun our trip. When we got into the car and started the engine, the clock on the dash read 3:00. How could that much time have passed? I didn’t even get hungry when lunchtime clicked around! What had happened to the day?

It was at that moment of being brought back into the realm of time-keeping that I realized I had spent the day in the absence of time. And it had been wonderful! I think about that day whenever I contemplate eternity and what it must be like for something to be “forever.” Without the reminders of clocks, watches, and other time-keepers, I was unaware of the passage of time. I didn’t even notice the sun crossing the sky that day, as I was so caught up in the experience of the river and my wandering thoughts.

I long for the day when I’ll no longer be a clock watcher, and won’t be bound by schedules. This may not happen until I depart this life and move into the realm of the eternal, but I can wait. I’m in no hurry.

But, I’ll tell you one thing for sure- I never intend to put on another watch.