I've been involved in theatre since I was fourteen -- longer if you count the presentations for parents we did in elementary school. Over the years, some of my best and most enduring friendships have been established through this involvement.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with a group of theatre friends. We're a diverse group, and since we met in community theatre, our lives have taken us in many directions. We are writers, teachers, professionals, spouses, parents and caretakers. We've been in numerous shows together, but all of us have never been in the same one at the same time. We've celebrated marriages and life events together, and as we grow older, we find ourselves in attendance at sadder occasions as well.
And yesterday, we all picked up exactly where we'd left off, weaving the well-worn threads of old jokes into the fabric of new ones, laughter forming a bridge long enough to span the geographical distances that separate us. It was amazing how little had changed, though so much had. We laughed with one another and at ourselves, the afternoon a crazy quilt of memories and silliness.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a similar reunion, this one with theatre friends from high school. Rather than descending on someone's house bearing food, we descended on New York City, bringing accolades. One of our own had hit the big time, directing a show on Broadway, and we were there to support and celebrate his efforts. We gathered outside the theatre a little awkwardly; for some of us, many years had passed since we'd seen one another. We sat together in the theatre, our opportunities for interaction limited by the location of the seats we'd claimed, telling stories of the present and the past, bringing spouses and family members up to date and into the picture with snippets of shared history. That day, the weather forecast foiled my participation in the dinner that followed, and though I was disappointed, it wasn't until yesterday that I fully realized what I'd missed.
It's so easy to get caught up in the lives we've built, all the while forgetting -- or simply setting aside -- the relationships that formed their foundations. The people we are now arose from the people we were then, but geography and the growing up process conspire to build a wall between the two.
But what these two reunions reminded me is that all it takes to break down that wall is the desire to do so. In neither case was I the instigator of the activity, but in both cases, I was a beneficiary of those who took the initiative to make these gatherings happen. And for that, I am truly grateful.
There will always be excuses not to attend, and some of them are valid. Others, like interfering weather forecasts, seem valid at the time, but turn out not to be so, and still others, like our own hesitation to step out of the to-do lists and obligations of our daily lives simply need to be overcome.
What became clear on both of these days was that twenty -- or more -- years can zoom by at an astounding pace. And every time we say, "maybe next time," we are robbing ourselves of an opportunity to revel in this time. And that's just silly.
There will always be reasons to say no. Sometimes it even seems like the responsible thing to do. What's often harder is to look past the moment we're in and say yes to the possibility that an unexpected invitation brings.
It's easy for me to say these things now -- both of these reunions were desirable opportunities and therefore easy yeses -- but I plan to use their momentum to propel me forward into the yeses that are a little more challenging. The ones that force me out of my comfort zone. The ones that require me to be the instigator. The ones that I can find a million excuses not to attend.
Because within each of them lies the possibility of another afternoon like yesterday. And that is a risk worth taking.