our friends, the hale family, came to town a few weekends ago. seems that once you win an emmy and mention your hometown that you are suddenly a hot ticket for speaking in said home town. who knew? the hales were in town because the FAMOUS friend of my youthful days, tony hale (remember to be nice to your friends and their families because you never know when your best friend’s little pesky brother will grow up TO WIN AN EMMY), talked at fsu to students. one thing he talked with the students about was his children’s book that he has written (archibald's next big thing). i have heard him give his “be content where you are or you will never be content when you get where you want to go” speech before (mostly from my couch as he and i talked about that whole concept because i am mad crazy about that whole spiel) and now i am even more excited about it being in book form. for kids. and adults. and me.
so i think it was one of those “God knows i am the village idiot” moments when what will forthwith and forever be known as my “crocodile lesson” happened the day after they left town because it was exactly like what he was talking about and what i had been thinking about as these same ole, same ole days speed by like a bullet train on speed…
the incident occurred because i am directing the musical at raa performing arts magnet middle school. peter pan. very exciting. very overwhelming. i am very unqualified. yet, i am loving (most) every moment.
i especially loved this one very significant moment…
the boy that we cast as the crocodile had to drop out. it wasn’t a really prime part. the crocodile doesn’t speak. he wears a heavy cumbersome felt costume. an unhip and unflattering crocodile green costume. but our girl who plays the dog part is pretty thrilled with her part as silent (well, barking) animal. so i asked if she would also like to play the crocodile.
THRILLED, DELIRIOUS, ECSTATIC, RHAPSODIC, CORYBANTIC (really, that is a synonym of “thrilled”) are not strong enough words to describe her response. well, maybe corybantic is, but i have never heard of that word before in my life.
“REALLY?!?!? THE CROCODILE?!?!?!? THAT IS MY DREAM ROLE!!! why did billy drop out?!?!? who would drop out of the BEST PART OF THE PLAY?!?!?” that was her response. at about 185 decibels of teenage excitement (or corybanticness). it was heart warming. i love a gal very into her role. of the non speaking crocodile. anyway, she ended up being so adorable as the crocodile that we included her on a dance number. you should see her can-can kick as the croc. brilliant.
so on the day that her costume was ready i happened to run into her on campus as she was going into a class. i told her that her costume was ready. her reaction was so blatantly OVER THE TOP/CORYBANTIC that her teacher told her that she could go and try it on IMMEDIATELY because it was evident to all in a 50 mile radius that no learning could take place in her brain until she had tried on that crocodile costume.
so we went and she tried it on. the heavy, unyielding, hot as blue blazes (or should that be green blazes?) crocodile suit. complete with croc hands. a croc hoodie. and croc booties. my costume gal got all up in the croc-o-dile business. and of course it fit. it would have fit 99.9% of the adult human population. it is that kind of costume. and my actress was as happy as i have ever seen a girl wearing 67 yards of green felt. compete with hoodie. and hands. and booties.
once she was back in her regular uncroc clothes i walked her back to class. she was literally shaking while she talked about how wonderful the costume was. how great her part was. how the whole play was a dream wrapped in a vision draped with corybantic awesomeness. and i said to her, “i bet you are the happiest girl in this middle school today.” to which she responded with this little brightness of brilliance…
“i think i should be! it isn’t everyday that you get to try on a crocodile costume!”
and at that moment, i got it. the true meaning of contentment. and joy. or not hurrying toward some goal. the miracle of one everyday moment that was right now. as i held 49 pounds of felt crocodile costume in my hand. walking across an inner city magnet middle school basketball court with a teenage girl. who loves being a crocodile.
i actually had to stop walking. stop talking. stop her walking just so i could soak that moment in. and to really let it settle into my soul. and to stop the tears that burned my eyes. here was a girl who was loving EVERY moment of the process. she GOT TO (not “had to”) try on her costume. it was a joy. not just a step to go through to get to the BIG DAY. trying on the costume was THE BIG THING. and then coming to rehearsal was also A BIG THING. every moment was sacred. savored. every step was full of joy.
i grabbed her hands and said, “you are so right. it isn’t every day that you get to try on a crocodile costume. let’s stand here and breathe in the awesomeness that is RIGHT NOW.” and she and i breathed. in the awesomeness. and the smell of the basketball court at an inner city middle school. and then we walked back to class. and i took that costume and hung it up so it would stay as wonderful and special as only 49 pounds of green felt can stay…
and every since that day i have tried to find a moment in the day, or several moments, that are crocodile moments…
every single moment is a REAL BIG moment on the path to the moments that we typically think of as the BIG moments… graduations, weddings, proms, parties, awards, birthdays, vacation, spring break, the actual performance of the play, when the play is over and life is back to “normal” (ha), whatever is the NEXT BIG THING that i think will be the thing that will make me happy. make things better. but there are hundreds, thousands, millions of moments along that way… that we “get to” experience that are the real joy of living.
because it’s not everyday that you get to try on a crocodile costume... nope, it is not. and i hope that i begin to get that a little bit more everyday. as i try to capture and breathe in all those moments that don't just have to happen everyday... but do happen... every. day.