Like so many things in life, I’ve learned a lot by playing make believe. Really. As a kid who logged some serious hours on a stage and spent her free time watching musicals (Hello Dolly! the Barbra Streisand version, thank you), many a life lesson came via a character study.
Take mercy, for example. You’d think I’d have first heard about the unearned act of compassion given to an offender while crying out for my mother to deliver me from my brother’s headlock. Or church. Maybe I would first come to understand the kind of freedom that unexpectedly comes from throwing one’s hands to the sky, crying out and and letting loose some kind of self-deluded control.
I first learned what crying out for mercy meant while rehearsing a monologue from the Broadway musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown. In the film version, Shirley Maclaine (of this current life–none of the previous ones) plays the title role, and I had studied her over and over and over again (thus my brother’s headlock from my monopolizing the television, I suppose), trying to pick up the right mix of Southern drawl and country moxie. There’s some real irony there considering I’ve settled in the South.
At one point, Molly discusses the idea of crying “Uncle.” Of giving up and trying to get on board the ship that’s already set to sail. I very much pulled “a Molly” this weekend, as both of my twin daughters and both of their parents have been dealing with a stomach bug.
No need to tour Yellowstone. The fountains and geysers are already here. Which led me to shout “Uncle!” And to find relief in admitting that, yes, we are ALL in fact, sick. Until that little admission, I had simply feared illness might rear its ugly head. Now that it has, it feels good to just go with it already. I hate that we’re all under the weather, but I’m super duper uber grateful we can be together while we are.
Control can be overrated. Snuggling with exhausted babies is not.