Overture, curtain, lights? Live it.

One of my greatest pleasures in high school was when I’d go with a bunch of friends to see a Broadway show on a Saturday afternoon.

We’d take the Long Island Railroad in to Penn Station and walk to Times Square, to the trailer in a little grassy area where last-minute tickets were sold. We’d wrangle with each other about which show to see at which price. One of my friends, who now reviews for Variety®, usually had the last word but, as I remember, we usually chose whatever looked good at $2 a seat.

My friends and I went to some of the grand old New York theaters, like the Helen Hayes, the Schubert. The feel of those red velveteen seats and the scent of theater dust alone were worth the $2.

The best moment was when the curtain came up and the lights went on. I always experienced that electric sense of anticipation: something wonderful was going to happen.

The play itself might turn out to be bad, but I always took away that wonderful feeling of anticipation. It kept me alive through the train ride home, through the rest of the weekend and through the long, boring weeks at school.

This morning at seven, I sat on my back steps. The sun came up behind me, shining into the dark forest deeps, highlighting individual tree trunks, vines, branches, the way golden footlights pick out the set on a half-lit stage. The first songbird trilled, another answered, then the valley was full of music.

I felt a wonderful sense of anticipation, the same feeling I’d had just before the curtain came up in the Helen Hayes Theatre.

Do we voraciously consume books, movies, television, music, video games, not for themselves, but for that wonderful feeling of anticipation as the entertainment starts? Are our lives so constrained and boring that we need that artificial jolt to feel alive? This one will be great. This one will fulfill, justify, empower me.

We think the feeling comes from the media, when it really comes from the dawn.

It’s the feeling of a new start. The feeling of the birth of one of the wonderful days of our life.

Take it back.

By S.J. Driscoll

19 thoughts on “Overture, curtain, lights? Live it.

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  3. jaxbabe

    This post made me want to burst into song. I’m afraid this would inspire more rioting than anticipation, however. So, I will sing to myself, and nod to you while doing so, Sally.

  4. patodearosenPat O'Dea Rosen

    As Margaret said, “you’re on to something here.” Spring always fills me with a sense of anticipation and possibility (although I’m bitter we didn’t have a winter this year in Southeast Texas). Your message is that we have to greet every day with spring-like anticipation, and I agree–but may falter in July and August when the heat is on.

    1. SJ Driscoll

      No winter? We had some cold days here in the Hill Country, just enough to make a fire worthwhile. But I agree about July and August. Up north we hid in the house from the winter cold but here we hide from the summer heat.

  5. Louise Behiel

    what a wonderful post. It reminds me of the moments when a kernel of an idea for a new book springs forth and solidifies and you know it’s worth writing.

    thanks for a connection to spring.

  6. SJ Driscoll

    Hi, Patricia! Yes, spring is the season of anticipation. I’m rather jealous that you’ve done so much acting. An excellent actor is a wonderful being, but a bad one–no. In my senior year of high school, I played what was possibly the worst Medea in the history of theater. That’s a long history.

  7. Patricia

    Oh my, what a great analogy! Spring is an especially good time to experience tha anticipation; the thrill of reawakening and new life ready to burst all around us.

    I love theater! Being a thespian myself, I can tell you, the excitement and anticipation is 10 times stronger on the other side of that curtain. When the orchestra hits those first few notes and the stage manager yells, “places,” everyone’s heart races with expectation.

    I’m glad that you have happy memories of your theater visits and that you can appreciate the beauty all around you.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  8. Margaret

    I think you’re onto something here. The potential and possibilities held within that moment before the play begins, the book is read, the shoes are worn is enormous,exciting and even full of wonder. Your post has made me think that perhaps it is this need for wonder in our lives which has lead us down the road of voracious consumerism. Thank you for making the link to the natural world.

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