In honor of this auspicious year we are ushering in, I would like to share a story of another time in my life that reminds me of the kind of turbulence and possibilities we are currently facing. The story is told through my eyes as a teenager in a letter I wrote to a memorable person.
Excited, full of joy and anticipation, I was staring at my closet wondering what I should wear for the Broadway show I had been so long waiting to see. It was the talk of the town, the country, and the decade. No show reflected or captured the 1960’s cultural, social, sexual and racial revolution as Hair did. Unlike so many teenagers during this explosive period, I was not swept away by the cacophony of messages of peace, love, drugs, sex and rock and roll. I knew something important was unfolding in our world, but deep within me there were feelings of disconnect from most of what was going on. I was too caught up in the pain from all the daily images on TV – the racial unrest, people getting killed in the Vietnam War, the starving children in Biafra, Kent State – I could feel everyone’s pain and I felt completely overwhelmed. Feeling alone and like a freak, for the past year, I withdrew into my room, reading, and ruminating about how I didn’t belong on this crazy planet of ours.
Fortunately, I was able to transcend these feelings of isolation and rediscover the meaning of my life: I am an empath and I came here to help ease the suffering of my brothers and sisters.
It was after this discovery that I got tickets for the show. Having lived in isolation for so long, I could feel the fear in the pit of my stomach. Like most teenagers, I felt awkward and lacked confidence. I didn’t think I had anything to wear. Finally, I decided to wear my hip hugger, bell bottom pants and a simple shirt. With my hair in braids and a headband, I was ready to go.
Eager to get there, my girlfriend and I arrived early to the theatre. Since it was midweek and the show had been running for a while, we walked into a rather empty theatre. We proceeded to take our seats, which were quite a distance from the stage. There were no more than a handful of people around. Caught in conversation with my girlfriend, I did not notice that you were ever so slowly walking in the aisle looking at me. My friend motioned with her head for me to look in your direction. In order not to be obvious, I tried to pretend that I was looking at something else. You caught my eye, smiling broadly. With a hint of a smile, shyly I quickly averted my gaze. I felt a surge of blood rushing to my face. You were so cute I thought I was going to faint right there and then.
A few minutes later you showed up again. This time you motioned me to come over. My feet almost buckling under me, I struggled to stand up to move your way. You indicated to me that you wanted to move us to other seats. You gestured toward the front, asking me to follow you. Scared and confused, yet somewhat charged and delighted, I called my friend to follow us. My mind was reeling with questions, Who is this guy? What is he doing? Why is he doing this? You took us to the second row, pointing to two empty seats in the center. I looked at you perplexed, but you just smiled and walked away.
Taking our new seats, my girlfriend and I were in shock. We tried to figure out what was happening, wondering whether someone was going to tell us to return to our real seats. The theatre filled quickly and before we knew it, the show began. I breathed a sigh of relief; no one came to demand we move. Still quivering in my seat, it was hard for me to concentrate and enjoy the show. A half hour into the show, you suddenly appeared on stage singing. My heart literally stopped for a few seconds. My G-d, you were in the show. You had a beautiful voice, a beautiful face, a beautiful smile…you were so beautiful. Ready to jump out of my skin with elation and awe, I grabbed my girlfriend’s arm tightly to make sure I was not dreaming.
The performance continued, but I was too wired to relax and enjoy it. I kept waiting for you to perform, to swoon me. Fortunately when the nude scene was played, you were not among the cast. I would have passed out with embarrassment; I wouldn’t have been able to ever look at your face again. When the last scene, Let the Sunshine In began, you came out with a single rose, walked over toward me, huge smile on your face, bent down and handed it to me. Being shy, particularly in large gatherings, I could hardly stand being in my skin. There was no running away – here I was sixteen years old, watching the best show on Broadway, in a full theatre, with all eyes on you and me. While you returned to sing and dance with the rest of the cast, I got this aching feeling in my gut. It was as if I knew what you were about to do next, but I was too fearful to even go there. Sure enough, you came back toward me and asked me to come up on stage to dance with all of you. Terrified, I shook my head emphatically, NO, but you persisted. With everyone watching, the cast, the audience, my girlfriend, you insisted I come up on stage. At that moment I wished the ground would swallow me, I just wanted to disappear. Realizing that I was not about to comply, you asked two of the male cast members to pick me up and bring me on stage.
As they were coming toward me, ready to lift me, something inside me surrendered. They put me on stage next to you, the music and the dancing now almost reaching a feverish level. With the audience on their feet clapping ecstatically, I began to dance on stage. My fear dissipating into exhilaration and rapture, I felt the unity in the room. Totally caught in the moment, receiving and giving unabashedly, I celebrated my reconnection with humanity.
When I got home, a part of me felt like I had dreamed the whole thing. It was as if I was a character in a fairy tale. But it was not a dream, it really happened.
I later realized that on that night I was audaciously welcomed back onto the stage of life.
I share this letter with you to inspire you to look deep within yourself and ask yourself whether you are following your mission, your inner guide. At this critical juncture in humanity’s history, the world needs your gifts, your wisdom, your creativity, your energy and your love. It’s time you step onto the stage of your life and discover the magic and mystery that life holds for you.