I was stopped for a while at an intersection today and noticed a red tailed hawk flying around above me. I watched for some time and noticed that the hawk was just going around in circles. She didn’t go after anything, she didn’t seem concerned, she just floated around and around and around the same intersection.
I thought how beautiful she was, but also how she seemed to be flying just because she could. Maybe you smart people out there could tell me all of the reasons for her flight and what she was doing, but I would rather think that she was just enjoying a beautiful Saturday, watching me as I watched her and showing off that she can fly and I can’t.
Last night I went to see “Our Town”, my favorite play of all time. I love it’s story, it’s message and it’s simplicity. Seeing it on stage, with this particular interpretation was just what I needed.
I’ll be honest, I was a bit scared to go. I know the play very well and knew Emily’s last speech by heart. I knew it was going to be difficult. I almost chickened out of going altogether, but I didn’t.
The cast was really good, the lighting was beautiful and the direction to keep it simple and just tell the story was what I had hoped for. When the third act began, I steeled myself for what was to come. And I did a fine job keeping it together through the act, the curtain call, speaking to a few people on the way out. Then I lost it in the car driving home.
“Our Town” tells the story of a small town in the early 1900’s. It follows two families and some of the people around them. It covers small town life, the relationships of the family members and then the love and subsequent marriage of two of the children from these families. The Stage Manager (narrator) tells the bulk of the story and plays a few different parts.
But it is the last act, the act about death, that is the most real and meaningful to me. Always has been, but especially now. Funny to say that it is more “real” when the rest of the story is very simple, and down to earth and the last act is when the spirits in the cemetery speak. How real can that be? But the conversations and the realizations made during that final act always ring true.
Ever since I was young I have felt very strongly how quickly life goes by, how short our time on earth is. I can remember telling friends when I was in high school that the whole of time was whatever room we were standing in and that our life was only a snap of the finger, if that. And I would snap my finger to make my point. I have gotten lots of weird looks for that, especially back then.
I am shocked to have had the life I have had, to continue to have this amazing life. I try really hard not to take it for granted, but when I hear the words of this play and see that hawk floating in the sky, I realize that the character of Emily, the young girl we watch grow up, marry and die in “Our Town” is spot on when she says “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?- every, every minute?”
The words of Simon Stimson, another character in the graveyard with Emily says it best. “That is what it was to be alive. To move about in a cloud of ignorance, to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those . . .of those about you. To spend and waste time as though you had a million years. To be always at the mercy of one self centered passion or another. . .”
I watch the hawk fly around and around and around, just because he can. I think of how much I push and worry. I think about how conflicted I get about what I am supposed to be doing. I think about how tied up I get in what others think. I think of the time I waste and the feelings I trample, including my own. And I remember that snap of the finger and how it gets quicker and quicker as I get older.
And I think, maybe all I am supposed to do is fly, just because I can.