Posted by tomleveen at 12:56 am
This is a line from my all-time favorite, bestest-ever vampire story, One For The Road, by a little known author named Stephen King. Seriously, if you like vampires and haven’t read this one, do it. No romance, no sparkles, no petite cheerleaders. Just scary freakin’ vamps.
But that’s not the point of my discussion today. It’s just an apt header.
We had many “eras” during my tenure at Is What It Is Theatre, but only two real “heydays.” One was during 1999. We had a great string of awesome plays. The other heyday was between 2001-2004ish.
In the ’99 heyday, in the course of production, it was normal to:
1. Construct a set in my backyard.
2. Tear down the set and a stage to move it to our performance venue.
3. Build the stage.
4. Build the set.
5. Do three shows over the course of a weekend.
6. Tear down the set.
7. Tear down the stage.
8. Transport it all back to my house.
9. Repeat steps 3 through 8 for the following week of performances.
Sometimes we only had to pile the platforms and flats in one corner, or outside the room, but either way, we were still building/tearing down/rebuilding not just a full set, but the stage beneath it as well. That includes setting up all the lights, costumes, and props. If you’ve ever been in a play and done a light hang, you know how much work that is all by itself.
This was not easy. It was long, hot, and laborious, two of which might be fun with your girlfriend (HEY-O!), but not so much when you’re lifting 200 lb. platforms and stacks of lumber.
But it was fun.
There were always people helping out. All of us were volunteers. We’d build, we’d laugh, we’d get pizza and Super Big Gulps. And then we got to do a play together.
Because we had our youth to spend, you see.
I know people a lot older than me who routinely do things like go to Africa and build wells in poverty-stricken villages. My mom makes quilts for various charities. I know The Church Ladies who sift through canned goods and donated items to give away to anyone who has need. You’re never too old to help.
But there’s something about youth…about that time from around 15 to your mid twenties or so… where you have the energy, drive, and passion to really work hard and get some stuff done.
I remember my former speech teacher coming back from a trip to Europe with her husband after she’d retired. When I asked how the trip was, her husband immediately replied, “Go when you’re young.” I laughed. He didn’t. “I’m not kidding,” he said. “Go now. Go before it hurts.”
Now, I’m not a big traveler; I was when I was young and had no responsibilities. But believe me when I tell you you won’t have the same energy when you’re 35 as you do when you’re 15 or 25. Now is the time to strike. Now is the time to do all those things you want to do. It can be traveling, or it can be volunteering, or learning something new outside of a classroom — rock climbing, scuba diving, kayaking, hang gliding, whatever. Now is the time to help people. To head up canned food drives, clothing or back to school drives, sling chili at a homeless shelter, read to children or people in retirement homes, recording for the blind…whatever. Get the hell out there and do it. You know as well as I do that there will be another super exciting video game console coming out in a year. Wait for that one. Hollywood’s not going away, nor its ability to get you movies you want to see. Wait for them. You’ve got something that needs doing. Whatever it is, go get it.
Christopher Chantrill, an author and blogger, says this about you:
When you give young people power, they are going to change things. That is the reason for young people. Not knowing any better, they rashly enter upon careers and marriages, start churches, magazines, think tanks, and foment revolution. … We Americans have experience of this. In 1775 George Washington was an old man of 43 and John Adams was 40. But Thomas Jefferson was 32, James Madison was 24, and Alexander Hamilton was 20. … [Right now] reckless young people are thinking reckless thoughts and planning reckless deeds. Soon enough we’ll know all about them.
You have your youth to spend. Spend it wisely; spend it recklessly.
…no matter how old or young you think you are.