Thornton Wilder, in his play Our Town, tells the story of life as it is lived out in the mundane and amid the relationships of daily living. The details are specific but the lesson is like a mirror held out to all of us. We see the daily routine in all its monotony-the milk arrives, breakfast is eaten, working people go to their jobs, housewives tidy their homes, handymen work in the yards-each day reflecting the previous one. In the story the turning point came when Emily Gibbs died giving birth to her baby and the routine was suddenly broken.
But from the realm of the dead, Emily is given a chance to return to earth for a day of her choice as it was actually lived out, so she could enjoy it once again, this time through nostalgic eyes. She watches the harried activity and preparation that was going on in celebration of her twelfth birthday. As expected, on an occasion such as that the household is preoccupied with presents and food and chatter. The party buzzes with activity.
But from the sidelines Emily notices the complete loss of any personal attention that would make her day and life meaningful. The attention of everyone is on the occasion, not on the person and the relationships. She is appalled at such neglect. From the unseen, she pleads, "Just for a moment we’re happy. Let’s look at one another." But her plaintive cry is unheeded. They could not hear her because they are trapped by the superficial. The party must go on and the moments dissipate into activity. As she bids her final farewell, she cries, "Oh, Earth, you’re too wonderful for anyone to realize you!"
Then she turns to the stage manager, who has taken an active part in the play, and asks, "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it-every, every moment?"
The answer comes, "No. The saints and poets, maybe-they do some."
"Do any realize life while they live it?"
Really, I want you to take a moment and ponder this question.
Why is it that at the end of people's lives they all wish they had smiled more, worked less, and spent more quality time with those they loved the most? We wanted more engaging conversations, a lot less arguing and fighting over the trivial, and so many more hugs.
We tend to buzz right through life, from one calendar appointment to the next -all the while missing the remarkable moments that fill our lives. If this article strikes a cord with you I will ask that you take it; post it in a place where you can see it every day.
Because we all need reminders to, "realize life while we live it."