In honor of all of the new graduates out there, we're sharing some words of wisdom written by a high school drama teacher to his graduating seniors. This teacher just so happens to be one of my best friends, and I recently choreographed the musical that he directed at his school this past spring so I have the privilege of knowing some of the students who received this message. While this is addressed to high school students, there is plenty of inspiration for people of all ages (and you get bonus points if you catch the musical theater references). Whether you're a recent grad or someone who just needs a little boost today, please read Mr. B's last lesson for his class: ______________________________________________________________________________________
Do you remember The Drowsy Chaperone? It was the musical the Drama Club presented your freshman year. Maybe you were in the show, maybe you worked crew, maybe you came to see it, maybe not.
There's a moment in the play at the very end - The Man in Chair has been listening to his favorite musical on a record and finally he's reached his favorite part of the entire show.
The ingenue, Janet van de Graaff, is torn between a life of love and marriage or a life of fame and glamour. In a moment of crisis, she turns to the Chaperone and asks what she should do. The Chaperone wisely replies...
"L--ve while you can."
Of course, on the recording that The Man in Chair is listening to, the first word is unintelligible. Another actor dropped a cane while the line was being spoken, and the clatter from the dropped prop overwhelms the voice of the Chaperone.
Man in Chair: "Is she saying 'live while you can?' or 'leave' while you can'?"
While both are completely applicable to your current situation as graduation looms near (less than 12 hours until 'places!'), I would like to propose a third possibility for the unclear line. As inspired by If/Then, perhaps the Chaperone was saying "love while you can."
You know how I love a story that ends the same way it began!
Here's my final piece of wisdom for you:
If/Then teaches us that "life is short and life is hard." They're right. I also have found that life is a series of tests and the issue being tested is almost always, "Can you be true to yourself in any given situation?" Having taken both roads - actively trying to be somebody else and embracing various versions of my Best Self - I can tell you that life is always easier when you're true to yourself.
from Hamlet: "To thine own self be true."
Remember that everything is temporary. High school probably went a lot faster than you anticipated it would. College will go by even faster. Live in the moment - focus on the act of breathing and appreciate what's around you while you have the time. In the end, the only things that last are love and art. May your lives be filled with an abundance of both!
Remember that you have the ability to cope with any problem or situation that comes your way in life. Learn how to change your perspective and find the silver lining that is present in even the stormiest cloud. It's not easy, believe me, I know, but the more you practice at it, the easier it will be to change your mind.
It's ok to make mistakes. You've probably made a few by now, and you're certainly going to make more in the future. As Latrice Royale teaches us....
Finally, remember the people you've met, for better or worse, because each of them has helped make you who you are today. Stay open to all possibilities in life, and you'll find that.....(duh-duh-duhduhduhduhduhduh!) ANYTHING'S POSSIBLE! (#CouldntResist)
I wanted to reach out to you all one final time to thank you for all your hard work this year. I hope that I have had half the impact on your lives that you all have had on mine.
from The King and I
"It's a very ancient saying, but a true and honest thought,
That if you become a teacher, by your pupils you'll be taught."
Mr. B (or TJ, if you now wish!)
PS - Remember.... if you can't love yourself....how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen?!