Monday, October 6, 2008
We are living life as it is meant to be lived -
as a challenge that takes every bit of our courage and ability.
Why does it take so much courage to live a life? Where do we find the strength to continue in the face of all the problems and dangers that threaten us? What gives us the ability to wake up, get up and face another day of trouble, fear and worry? How do we cope in our days with illness, poverty and loss, loss of loved ones, family, friends and pets, loss of employment, loss of faith, loss of trust in government, loss of the strength and energy of youth, loss of confidence in ourselves? And what do we do about desperate situations that suddenly arise?
I have wanted to tell this story for some time, The picture is from a play I did in Pennsylvania a few years ago. It is the moment when the lights go up on the curtain call. The actor in the center is David. The one on the end is Paul. In the final moments of the play I am curled up on the floor, dead. Paul is holding up a pillow stuffed with feathers. And David stabs it with a knife sending the feathers flying. Then he has a rather long speech - several minutes long.
One night the consistency of the cloth was different for the pillow and when David stabbed into it the knife went right through it and into his thigh. He could have left the stage at that point. But instead he found the strength in himself to do the speech and join us in the curtain call. And Paul, who faints at the sight of blood, held himself together long enough to finish the play.
Back in the dressing room Paul passed out on the floor and David asked me to get the stage manager to call an ambulance. When I saw the wound in David thigh I could hardly believe that he had stood and walked with us.
That evening there was an opening night party for the other show in the theatre, to which we were invited. Charlie ,the director, followed David to the hospital. Paul went back to his apartment. The crew were all busy scrubbing blood off the stage floor. So I went to the party. I didn't get four feet inside the room before I was surrounded by people from the other show wanting to know what happened. When I described the event they were amazed at David's courage.
The next day I went to visit him at the hospital. The doctor had told him that the wound went right down to the bone, but that he had just barely missed an artery.
We missed only two performances. The third day David was back. We had to rehearse it to change some physical things, but we went back to work. It was one of the most wonderful examples of courage and personal strength I've ever seen close up.
A humorous side note to this story is that when the ambulance was called the media showed up and pictures were taken and published. After his first night back, we put David in a cab. The Caribbean cab driver looked at him in the rear view mirror, recognized him and said "Oo, my Gahd! Eets thuh mahn what stahb heemself."
DB - The Vagabond