I confessed to a couple of good friends over a recent lunch that I can take almost any fun project and turn it into work and from their kind smiles knew this was not exactly late breaking news.
While I really do try to lead an aware life , this is not something I realized on my own. Several years ago I met with a clairvoyant in Arizona. It was a remarkable experience, not only for the surprisingly accurate insights she offered but her style of working. Her eyes would narrow and scan in a horizontal plane, back and forth, back and forth. I had to refrain from my instinct to duck as it was easy to imagine the scene morphing into Linda Blair in The Exorcist. But duck I didn’t and listen I did. At the time I was worried about a part in a play that I had accepted and for which I was in rehearsal process. Unbeknownst to me, until I was well into it, a section of verse at the end of the show was to be sung. I do not sing….ever. You would thank me for this , trust me. I was thoroughly panicked about it. The clairvoyant said, “You are working on a project that should be a lot of fun for you but instead you are worried about it , making it difficult for yourself and turning it into hard work.” She was exactly right.
This is much in my thoughts this week. A man that I have a great deal of respect for passed away last week leaving behind his wonderful wife and an entire community of people to mourn. Hugh was a larger than life person, deeply talented and generous. His funeral on Tuesday was comprised of eulogies that were each loving , warm, funny and heartbreaking as every speaker strove to describe a life fully lived in far too few years.
The picture painted was a rich portrait of a man and a life as people tried to find a way to describe him. His gifts, his mentoring, his ability to inspire, his friendship, his love, his grin, his quirks and his foibles were all described in loving detail, but one thing really stood out to me in high relief. Hugh moved though life with a light step. If a stranger approached, they were an immediate friend…there was almost no gap between “How do you do?” and a warm hug. His work at the community theater that was a second home to Hugh and remains so for his wife Donna, benefited in hundreds of ways from his knowledge and work on every level but none of it ever appeared to be a difficult burden for him. His work on stage was exquisitely conceived and detailed but he was utterly comfortable in it both onstage and backstage. He was capable of masses of work and his work was of the highest quality…but he never made “work” of it.
One eulogy, one of the several given, each beautiful in their own right, particularly resonated with all those left behind. The speaker, Brian, talked of being a new actor cast as Hugh’s son in a play directed by Hugh’s wife Donna. He received the directorial “note” from her to try to incorporate some of the father’s characteristics into the character of the son. “Be like Dad ” Donna said. Brian said there was no better way to end his eulogy than with a slightly revised version of this and ended with the exhortation to us all, “Be like Hugh”.
I don’t think I have all that that would take in me, in fact I know I don’t… but I can really try… and I will try with as light a step as I can possibly manage.