I like to say that my life is a lot like a TV series. I guess it’s like that with all of us. Each year is a “season” of episodes, with a variety of plots and situations, as well as cast members who come and go. People who impact the story in a variety of ways, enter when appropriate and eventually exit when their particular part in my story is over. Each exit is different. Sometimes, plots are dropped; characters just kind of vanish, or are phased out. Others leave in a burst of drama, making a big splash as they walk out the door. Sometimes these people come back for a short run later to cause trouble, but don’t return to their status as regulars. Still, others leave the cast due to death and tragedy.
On the flip side, as people leave, others arrive. They are brought into the story as the plots change and circumstances bring them into our lives. New jobs, a move, or a life change, will always introduce us to new folks or strengthen the bond of people we looked at on the periphery. Those people can become as welcome as old friends; blood siblings in a way, confidantes who help make the story more vibrant and exciting. Or they can create more conflict, and as any writer will tell you, conflict is the key to good drama.
As we wind down 2015, I reflect on my life, as I do every year. I’m that kind of person. A man who reviews his story, rewinds the tape, as it were, and has a “flashback” or “clip show” to remember those who have left and recognize the people who recently joined. My personal core cast of regulars has largely remained fairly stable, all things considered. The usual time passage has taken some from us, but we’ve also had some wonderful additions. I’m fortunate. Too many of my friends, my supporting cast, have not been. The list of people I’ve held dear is missing a few notable names since 2014, which makes me sad. A number of them were taken from us prematurely, but a few others just phased out of the series. Either in reaction to those losses or simply because life has a way of pulling us apart.
At the same time, I can see the list of new people has grown in unexpected ways. The TV series analogy is one I’ve used my whole life, but feels more appropriate now as an actor. In the last four or so years, I’ve met dozens, if not hundreds, of new people through the theater and various television work. While most of those came and went with the jobs, a select few have been added to the cast and are most welcome. I see them often and very much enjoy their company. However, knowing how things ebb and flow, I find myself wondering how long these new friendships will last. How long until something happens that drives us apart, takes them away and exits them from my drama? I sometimes question the wisdom of forming so strong a bond, knowing they may leave at any time.
Just a few short months ago, Rita Langworthy was coldly and suddenly removed from her daughter’s life. Now, I had known Lin for a few years thanks for the various pug meet-ups. She was always fun, funny, upbeat, outgoing and generous. When she came to my NYC theater debut, I was thrilled. Once I learned my wife Jodi and I were on the short list of people to come to her small birthday lunch, the event where I met Rita, I was touched. So, when Rita was killed, my heart broke harder than I expected. At that moment, a deeper friendship was formed. I would give anything for Lin to have her mum back, to not feel that pain and loss every day. Yet, at the same time, I am grateful for this new and stronger bond and for the awareness Rita’s death has bestowed upon me. From even the most tragic event, I try to find something positive, some way to make it meaningful, however small. Lin has turned the tragedy into a foundation for the benefit of others while keeping her mother’s legacy alive, while I have gained a good friend. In turn, this friendship has opened my eyes to a lot of what is going on around me. Rita’s death made me aware of my own tunnel vision. It’s forced me to change how I see things and, hopefully, made me a slightly better person.
How long will these bonds and friendships last? I have no idea. I always intend them to be permanent, but they never are. Everything in life is transitory. Nothing lasts forever and it’s a waste of energy to worry about things I can’t control. Instead, let’s appreciate what we have today and the people in our little cast of characters. Cherish the times you share, the love you hold for each other and the good things they bring. Make the best of your time and revel in the experiences. Celebrate the lives of those who have left the stage by living up to their best example and the way they have changed your life. I am a different person today because of everyone I let into my little circle.
Join me as I go into my next “season” with my heart and eyes wide open, and trying to live up to the best example of those who matter most.