When I was a young child, my dad took us to see Damn Yankees at the dinner theater just a few miles from our home. It was the first live show I ever saw, and one that launched a life of longing for the stage.
The show gave me a feeling of floating and soaring and I distinctly remember the private elated feeling I had humming to myself while walking along the wall of the lobby in my white knitted poncho with stripes at the bottom that my great Aunt Mary had made for me.
The songs still evoke vivid memories from seeing the show. Echoes of images from seeing the show then have lingered longer than any memory of seeing the 1994 revival on Broadway have.
More than any images, I have physical, visceral emotional memories of how certain songs, or energies made me feel.
Decades later, cast in a local production, I make sure to be back stage when Joe transforms from middle aged man to young baseball hero and rushes onto stage singing the end of “Goodbye Old Girl.” He has sold his soul to the devil for a chance to live his dream as a baseball hero and bring his team to victory against the legendary Yankees of the 1950’s. The rush of youthful energy full of anticipation and possibilities that young Joe brings on stage with him touches the 7 year old child in me whose heart opened wider that it ever had hearing that song for the first time.
Middle aged Joe Boyd as young Joe Hardy, gets to live his dream. He in facts finds a way to live his dream and reunite with his wife, safe from the devil’s domain. Listening backstage again to this song, I felt a kinship with the longing and the dream, and this time, a deep affinity with Joe Boyd and his commitment to his wife. My life has always been a tug of war between my visceral need to connect with people through the arts to express myself on stage in song, dance and theater, and my need to feel connected and close to family, friends, and communities.
In life, we feel tension between our desires, our sense of responsibility, our wants and all the “should’s” that we learn.
How many of us suppress our dreams and desires and do what we are supposed to do instead?
What would it look like if we could feel as free as Joe Hardy when he finishes that song to bring our energy, enthusiasm and desires into the way we live our lives?