It was a mere 113 degrees in the Los Angeles Valley where my daughter goes to school on Monday, so thank goodness that was the day they had chosen for a class trip to the beach where it was a balmy 89. What a magnificent day it was out there. The waves were high and strong, and one kid had to be rescued by a cute lifeguard after being pulled out too deep by the undertow, but then we got some rules established, and they had an absolute blast. So did I. I played football, swam in the invigorating sea, laughed with the kids, dug up sand crabs, and the best treat of all, we watched a pod of dolphins riding the waves, their darkish bodies outlined in the curl of the water as the sunlight streamed through it from behind. The kids shouting, “Look, the dolphins are surfing!” with so much wonder in their voices. Magical.
Watching the kids experiencing all this I was reminded of our final performance of “Much Ado…” the previous day.
Before each show we all gather on stage to do a few connecting exercises and warms ups. We all hold hands and the director, my husband Joseph, says a few words before we start. The night before we had a high school group of fifty come in, and they had been a wonderful audience, staying afterwards for a question and answer. Now, these kids were not from a great area, they weren’t the kind of kids who, without a special teacher, would ever have experienced an evening of non-stop laughter and tears at a live performance of a show over four hundred years old, and their faces had glowed with enthusiasm and delight. So, as the cast stood together on Sunday before the final show, Joseph thanked us all for our talent and our efforts and let us know there was another school group coming in for that show. What he basically said was, “This is the reason for what we do—if we can inspire just a few young people and bring them the joy of theatre and writing and art and they continue that tradition, then we have done something worthy.” There was a hum of agreement and a few people with proud tears in their eyes.
We stayed after the performance to talk to this group too. They were a bit younger, but every bit as enthusiastic. Some of them had recently performed in “Romeo and Juliet” at school and we encouraged them to give us a few lines. Embarrassed, but encouraged, they did their best and received enthusiastic applause from a real Shakespeare company.
And my day was made.
I love what I do. I love writing, I love performing on stage and hearing people lean in and breathe together when I really have them. I love being a mom and taking my daughter and all her friends out to expose them to the wonderful, brilliant, massively multi-faceted world out there. I have always traveled with my girls for the same reason. They used to hate museums, and now my eldest would like nothing better than to be a curator of one, preferably in Venice, Italy.
Sharing our knowledge and passion with young people, and learning along with them, that is my best effort. It is a question of values,of perspective and choice. What do you want to say with your life? “I made a lot of money?” “People envied me?” Or— “I loved what I did every day, I shared my enthusiasm and applauded and encouraged others.” My choice is the latter, and so today, I am delighted.
Blessings to you all. Especially the teachers. You are more appreciated than you know, and more important than any movie star ever was. My enduring gratitude goes out to you.