March 25, 2011

Keeping active: Willingness to go it alone

I've had a great couple of weeks, partly because of the signs of spring ready to be sprung.  But also because I've seen some terrific theatre.  Washington's Arena Stage is having an Edward Albee Festival and I've seen two of the major productions -- Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe and Home at the Zoo (Albee's recent two-act adaptation of the one-act Zoo Story). I also saw  Aaron Posner's The Chosen, which was produced by Theatre J, Washington's Jewish theatre, but staged at Arena.  

I thoroughly enjoyed all three productions.  But I probably would not have seen them had I not gotten over my former rejection of any thought of going to a theater or movie by myself.   I used to think that if I did that others who saw me there would think, "Gee, that poor guy doesn't have any friends."  That was back in the days when I was hyper concerned about what others thought of me.

My wife died and my kids left home over 30 years ago.  Since then,  I've been living on my own.  Fortunately at about the same time, I came to terms with both my alcoholism and my sexual orientation; as a consequence, I acquired  a strong support network of good friends from both communities.

But it still took me several years to be comfortable with showing up alone at public places like the theater, movies, art galleries, etc.  I was helped in getting over this hurdle by the example set by my long-time friend Lili. She is 10 years older than me and has always been my role model on dealing with life in general and aging in particular. She is a vibrant person who has always attracted a large group of friends.  Yet she often goes to movies and the theater by herself..   This is hard enough for anyone to do but it's particularly difficult and unusual for a woman, regadless of age.  But this 92-year-old woman still does it.

When I asked her for the secret of how she's handled aging with such vitality, she replied that her maxim was to get out and do something every single day. If that means doing it alone, so be it.

So, thanks to Lili, I've seen great theater the past two weeks.

John
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