Lately, I’ve taken to catching myself smiling while driving alone in my car. I will be barreling up or down rt. 3, 45 minutes from one workplace to the next, and for no reason, I’ll feel a smile on my face and realize that without even noticing, I’ve been thinking happy thoughts. I probably have written this before – at least, I know I’ve journaled it – but in Eat Pray Love, the Balinese medicine man tells Liz that she needs to “smile with her liver.” Smile while meditating, while doing your small daily tasks. Just choose to be happy with your body and soul, and make a habit out of it.
I would say if I could pick the greatest of the changes in my life since turning 40, that would be it. I smile with my liver now, more often than not. Despite an enormous uncertainty in my life, waiting at the crossroads, despite working many many hours a week, despite some annoyances and worries, I am just happy most of the time. I know it’s because I am in the flow of my life, living on purpose, and with great appreciation and a continual expectation that things will turn out just the way they should. An attitude of gratitude. Feeling so energized by it all.
We had another great rehearsal tonight. We ran act two for the second time, and if you know anything about high school theater, you know that to be running act two three times before production week is kind of amazing. But they are all kinds of amazing, and while I had a vision when we started of what “cast bonding” with this group could be, I had no idea how very much it would exceed my expectations. They love each other so much, and are so caring and aware of each other, and it is a beautiful and heartwarming thing to witness. The senior girl who is my student director has taken charge of leading some warm ups and wrap ups with the cast, and they had a “favorite moments” circle on Sunday after sharing the first day of clues for their secret Valentines. Their compliments to each other about their favorite moments were so thoughtful and sensitive and judicious. They not only said what they felt, sincerely, but they also said things that were the very sentiments their castmates most needed to hear. And I think pretty much everyone had something special and unique about themselves recognized and praised aloud in front of people they all respect and admire.
I mean, really. How often in a life do you get a chance to see a thing like that happen, organically and with tremendous grace? What I get to do with my life is such a gift. And while I know it probably sounds so corny and bromidic (name that showtune reference)…I maintain that magic happens in theater. There is nothing more magical than genuine connection between people, than seeing love and confidence grow in a team united in a common goal. While singing showtunes. I feel so incredibly blessed to be a part of that.
It’s not always like this. Some shows are just shows, at least to me. I think they all make an impact in some ways to all of us, but this one is different. This one is special, and I knew it would be when the idea to do this just came to me two years ago. I thought of it, and I let a picture form in my mind of how it would manifest, and I was so right. I knew it would be this special for everyone.
It will be the saddest ever to say goodbye to this class, to watch them journey off into the world. But I’m so happy for all of them, so proud of them and so grateful to have known them. They have had some big experiences in their four years of theater with me, but this will be everyone’s favorite, and the perfect way to end.
Almost the entire cast is seniors. Most have been in lots of shows before, nearly all of them. A few are new. One of the new ones is playing Milky White. I had decided early on that I would make Milky White a person, and thought it would be funny if she were kind of jaded and sarcastic, edgy and trailer-park. But this girl walked in, and wanted to be Milky White, and turned out to be the sweetest, most sparkly sunshiney girl ever. She is one of those people that raises the vibration of the room as soon as she walks in. I had to have her in the show, so Milky White morphed immediately into a sparkly, sunshiney very happy cow, and her performance is so charming.
She’s so lovely that my Abby, who is the most excellent judge of such things, adores her especially. She draws her pictures of cows, and suggested a piece of blocking for the second act just so that everyone in the audience wouldn’t have to be upset thinking that Milky White got stepped on by the giant…LIKE EVERYONE ELSE IN THIS PLAY. (If you know Abby, you can imagine exactly how she would say that. “Like, EVERYONE dies. And Cinderella’s mother dies TWICE. What’s UP with that?”)
And she’s only one of twenty-five cast members, all of whom I like, most of whom I adore, and a few that I just love, plain and simple. Not every year, but some years when kids graduate, I think, “It’ll never be the same without them.” And I’m always right. This year, I mean it the most.
The way is dark,
the light is dim,
but now there's you, me, her and him...