I wrote on Friday about how we were having call-backs for our production of Seussical. Energy was high, and kids were genuinely excited. It was fun to see their faces and the pride and joy they couldn't contain as they considered the wonderful possibilities ahead of them. Auditions are exciting, full of the wonder of the possible, untainted by sometimes disappointing realities.
We had call-backs--and they were grueling. The last candidates, myself, and my assistants were all here until about 8:00 p.m. Maybe later. It's all a bit blurry.
I spent a good bit of Friday night stewing and thinking and pondering.
Often the difficulty is not in trying to decide who should get what parts. It's generally very obvious. This year, I had two choreographers, an intern, and my daughter there and as I checked with them from time to time, we are all unanimous. It was very clear who was best suited for the parts.
The difficulty lies in two things. First of all, the emotional impact. It's difficult knowing that your choice will hurt someone's feelings. More on this in a minute. The second difficulty lies in the domino/jigsaw puzzle effect. If Person A is Part 1, then who will be Part 2? Those kind of things make it very tricky. Even more tricky is trying to make sure that every member of the ensemble is in a few different songs, etc. With 130 kids, trying to balance all these imperatives requires a lot of thinking.
But, I digress. I want to talk about the lesson of a lifetime, the lesson that these children will learn, and the reason I think that some momentary hurt feelings are not the end of the world.
The play teaches them a few very basic lessons. It teaches that they cannot have everything they want. It teaches them that life will hand them disappointment. That is inevitable. I'm always intrigued as I watch the students deal with disappointment. Some of them have been shielded and padded and insulated from every possible disappointment. For them, not getting a desired role is devastating, and they take it personally. Others, who have been allowed to experience disappointment are generally sad for a bit--and then they move on.
How fortunate is the child who has experienced disappointment, who has not been shielded and insulated and protected from every unpleasant experience.
But this is not the lesson I'm pondering. The lesson they can learn, if they will, is that life gives us disappointments, yes. However, those disappointments, those apparent wrong turns can end up being blessings in disguise.
The truth is that every student in a play can have fun. The role does not define or limit how good the experience can be. Disappointment need not be permanent or constant. Humans are wonderful at adapting and joy can be found in many situations that at first looked dismal.
This is the lesson they can learn: disappointment cannot really hurt you, not in the long run at least. It stings, but if you push past it, you will often find wonderful and unexpected surprises. Disappointment can be the first step on the road to joy.
There is another lesson that some of the students will learn. Those who got large parts will realize that a great deal of work is required. The "fun" will pass very quickly, replaced by the pressures of memorizing, of learning choreography and music, of setting a good example, and then performing while everyone watches you. This can be rewarding for sure, but it's not "fun".
And that is the other part of the lesson. Neither disappointment nor momentary excitement are permanent. Both will fade over time, and both of them are gateway moments to great happiness. The road that leads from both of these states to permanent happiness is the same, and it is what I believe makes a happy and successful life: hard work and consistent effort.
Hard work will transform disappointment into joy and elevate excitement and momentary happiness into satisfaction. And these results--joy and satisfaction are far more durable than disappointment and excitement. They will linger and live on in the memory long after the other two have faded away.
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