Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lasting Life 9/23/09

12:01:57 AM EDT

Lasting Life

Even the fear of death is nothing
compared with the fear of not having lived
authentically and fully.

Frances Lappe


How do we authenticate a life? What yardstick do we use to measure a life's worth? What map do we have to chart a life, even a short one, that is lived to the fullest? I'm such a humanitarian that I believe the only way we can take the dimensions of anyone's life is in how it affects, directly or indirectly, other people.

There have always been a few people in my life that I look up to and think about whenever I am involved in any project or activity. Even if they never know about it. I want to make sure they would be pleased if they did.

About ten years ago I worked on this play about two old vaudevillians who flee the city in retirement and live in a cabin in the woods. When neighbors come to call who recognize them, they ask the two old guys to do one of their routines. So they do. (I'm the one on the right.)

The other actor, E, and I got along great on the stage. We were a real two man team. But backstage he was a bit of a problem. He was one who liked to criticize, and make jokes at other people's expense. Sometimes I was the butt of his jokes, but I refused to let it bother me. Instead I treated him with equality and equanimity.

Because there was a song and dance number in the show, we had a choreographer. One day in rehearsal during a ten minute break, instead of going outside as I usually did, I took a seat in the house directly in front of him. He leaned over and said "I really am impressed by what you are doing and I admire the way you are with E. You treat him with respect. You're a good man D."

I turned, smiled and thanked him. Then i went out to the park in back, sat by myself on a bench and wept.

Why did I weep? Because something occurred to me right then that I had never realized before. No one had ever called me "a good man" in my entire life. They said I was a good actor, or a good announcer or I did a good job. But never that plain, genuine recognition. I had to wait until I was 60 before somebody actually told me I was a good man. I will never forget that choreographer and that moment. It brings on a tear just now, thinking about it.

If you know someone who is a good person, tell them so. And be honest about it.

DB - The Vagabond

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