Thursday, October 29, 2009


I went back to high school yesterday. I have nightmares about high school. Not that it was such a bad experience but the dreams are most often about me being back there at the age I am now. This is what makes it a nightmare.

"I thought I graduated," I'm thinking as the dream unfolds. Usually I've got a math exam and I haven't studied for it at all. Or I'm late for class and I can't believe I have to be there. "Am I not done with this part of my life??"

It's a terrible feeling. I suppose it's because I'm having to do something over again, something I already completed; I'm having to repeat an experience that was challenging for me.

But being back in high school yesterday was actually really inspiring.

The first thing I saw when I walked through the doors was my name painted on the wall in gold letters underneath the words "Ontario Scholars." A miracle. I had to work really hard to get good marks after failing Gym in Grade 9 and getting asked to leave my first high school because of too many absences.

After we all stood for O Canada, I spent the next couple of hours with the students in the very same theatre where I'd directed a play for the first time at age 17. I read them one of the plays I've written and we talked about acting and writing and where to go after high school is over. Their dreams of being professional actors and dancers and musicians shone from their eager, young faces.

When the reading was done and it was time for me to leave, I looked outside at the "smoking section" where we used to hang out before, after and between classes and smoke cigarettes and I saw an empty yard. Times have changed.

On my way back downtown, on the same bus I took every morning all those years ago, I reflected upon my own success as a writer/performer. Twenty years ago our drama teacher had looked around the classroom and said, "Statistics tell us that only two of you are going to make it."

In that moment, I'd sworn to myself that I would be one of those two. And 20 years later I am. Not because I'm rich and famous but because I'm a working artist. I'm still at it. I didn't give up. I persevered. What a feeling!

Inspiring Message of the Day: "If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence. Determination. The will to endure to the end, to get knocked down seventy times and get up off the floor saying. "Here comes number seventy-one!" Richard M. Devos

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