Musings from the Middle

In the 6th grade I tried out for my first musical.  The choir room that I auditioned in was packed with 40 other students who had the same hopes and dreams as I did: to land a starring role in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.  I desperately wanted to play the role of Linus and had a genuine fear that instead I would be given the part of Pig-Pen and I absolutely hated being messy.


When my name was called, I stood at the front of the room in my jeans and Linus-inspired green t-shirt and read a dramatic monologue from the musical where Charlie Brown was lamenting about how awful lunchtime was at school.  My strategy was to show off how well I could read out loud in a clear yet speedy way.  I thought for sure that would work well for me.  Who wouldn’t want a fast-talking Linus to light up the crowd with laughter?  In about 45 seconds, I polished off the entire monologue and expected nothing but applause from the casting team (made up of a very talented music teacher, our super-hip high school librarian, and a quirky English teacher).  They looked at each other, looked back at me, and said: “okay, thank you!”

The next week the cast list was published.  It was a hand-written list of the fortunate scribbled on a piece of legal-sized.  There were dozens of people clamoring for a peek at the list, so I had to wait to get to the front of the crowd before I could celebrate my victory as being the next fast-talking Linus on stage.  When I reached the list, my finger slid down the list of people who were on the cast list and I was not among them.  Instead of the Linus I longed to be, I was in the chorus – in the land of harmonizers and back-up dancers. It was a very humbling moment – served with a side of a reality check – but it ended up being the best experience in my life.

Why? Because even though I wasn’t the lead, I discovered the value in every role of the production.  The lighting kid?  Yes!  Derek did a fantastic job on the lights.  The student who flipped the teacher’s piano music while she played?  Especially her!  You go, Monica, you did a phenomenal job.  The person who sat in the orchestra pit and fed me my lines when I forgot them while playing the lead in my 11th grade performance of The Secret Garden?  Oh, Amanda – you saved my life and I will always love you for it!

I like to think I operate in the same way today.  When I find myself in a new position or situation, I immediately look to those who can be supportive of the work that I do.  People like Amanda, Derek and Monica.  Those are the people that will always have your back when you are front and center and forget your lines.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s