Grandchildren change how you see the world. You begin to see the earth as a place you will be leaving and less as a place you must dominate and control.
This understanding creeps in - your time on stage is ending as your children take center stage. You move toward exit stage right and your grandchildren are standing behind the curtain with anticipation as they prepare to deliver their lines.
I’ve spent this year looking back on the show.
Danae and I met 36 years ago, and I feel this was the start of our small play. Pull the curtain back on Act One and I remember her showing up at my house several weeks after we met on Camp Bowie in Fort Worth. Her friend dropped her off and Danae and I walked around my neighborhood on a summer evening. The streetlamps shining down on us as we passed under and made our personal introductions of history and interests. We moved downstage and I can see Christmas Eve 1991 when I sang a song and played guitar asking her to marry me. A wedding 30 years ago. A child, then two. Two decades of constant motion as we raced to show our kids the world while we had them and at the same time manage a home and a career. A “make it up as you go” choreography and a fear of falling at any time into the orchestra pit but being caught by one of your fellow actors and then trying to remember lines. There was no intermission to catch your breath and the different acts and changes of scene were beautiful when reflected upon.
It would be nice to think I’ve moved from actor to the director’s chair, but that would insinuate I had more control than I really do.
Last year our little story grew with the introduction of Sophia to the Playbill. And next year new actors will appear. I’m not worried about delivering my lines and more excited to watch the production.
This year was also a reflection on my twenty-five years with Alinsco. This sideshow and its cast of characters are a gift. This stage was full of drama. Heroes, villains, traitors, friends, and extras coming on and off stage changing the storyline as they came and went. The orchestra playing “Flight of the Bumble Bee” as we built and battled and other times a slow rendition of R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts”.
Twenty-five years later and thanks to the manic market of the last three years I am older and still pushing to win. Thankfully with the help of friends who have proven loyal and who ensure the play will never be written into a tragedy. It’s already a decades old story of success. Countess times flowers were thrown on stage.
Fidelity, I’ve learned, is the thing I value most in a person, and what I expect most of myself. An endless number of times I’ve wanted to give up on people, projects, places, and purpose. There were times I did. But the value of fidelity keeps me from failing more often and it compels me to reach out to friends.
Going into 2024 The May Club will celebrate thirty years. An annual tradition of five days of adventure with friends. The fidelity I’ve learned from many of these men is an encouragement. Most of the original cast remains and I can’t wait to celebrate our 30 years together. I see a scene with clanking beer glasses while “All My Rowdy Friends” plays.
The soundtrack of all these years for me was the music of Jimmy Buffett. His departure from the planet and the end of his time on stage really shook me for some reason. This person I never met had such an impact on me – felt strange to be grieved so much. I’m grateful the soundtrack remains and I’m sure it will play in a few more of my own acts.
I’m on stage much less these days and everyone else is doing such a great job. There’s no need for me to step on a line. 2023 brought me sadness and joy – I’ll expect the same in 2024.
I am excited for the coming year and whatever it may bring as I have a much greater understanding of how quickly these moments pass. And I grow more excited all the time to meet the Playwright.
Cheers and Happy New Year!