This afternoon before the Tony Awards I had the chance to see one of my favorite Broadways performers, Idina Menzel, in If/Then, hence the title of my post. I'm not going to give a big Broadwayesque critique of the show; rather, I'm going to tell you what I learned from it.
To borrow from every teacher's favorite online resource, Wikipedia which described the musical as this: "Newly divorced 39-year-old Elizabeth, an urban planner, moves to New York City for a fresh start. She meets her friends Kate, a lesbian kindergarten teacher, and Lucas, a bisexual community organizer, in Madison Square Park. Kate suggests that Elizabeth start using the name "Liz" and seek out new experiences. Lucas suggests that she go back to her college nickname, "Beth," and start making professional connections in the city. "Liz" stays in the park with Kate while "Beth" leaves with Lucas, and the remainder of the show depicts two paths that Elizabeth's life could take."
Elizabeth (Beth/Liz) suffer from the flaws of overthinking, not trusting her heart, and worst of all, constantly asking herself "what if?". Should I do this? But what about that? What could happen? What if I pick the wrong road? What if I regret my choices? Without ruining the entire musical, the story weaves between two versions of Elizabeth's life (one as Liz, and one as Beth), both lives began at the same time based on a choice she makes with two options. We see the heartaches and triumphs she goes through in both versions of her life.
While I watched the show, and I find I do this often with plays, TV shows, and movies, I try to put myself into the character's life. I think in many ways I am like Elizabeth. I do overthink things, and yes, I most certainly do worry that I might make a choice and then regret it later. I often wonder what would have happened if I had made a different choice at one juncture in my life or other.
What if I had called Susan for one more date? What if I never went to that Reconciliation group when I was at BYU? What if I had given up on trying to go to BYU when they first rejected me because of my stupid low grades from my community college courses before my mission? What if I had chosen a different career? What if I had remained in Utah instead of moving to Las Vegas? What if I had stayed active in Church? What if I had been born straight?
I cried with Liz/Beth. I almost sobbed out loud, but I kept my Vulcan nerves mostly in check and only let a tear or two fall. Have I allowed my fears to screw me up? Yes... Have I allowed my fears to keep me from dating and making gay friends? Affirmative
Wow, it was quite the show...I wonder how much of it I missed due to my own personal epiphany! lol The lady sitting next to me asked if I liked it in spite of all of the man bashing. Funny, I never noticed any...so I must have missed something! haha Seriously though, it was a wonderful and tragic story. I suppose that in a way all of our lives are. We all make choices; we all go on different paths, and we all live with the consequences (both good and bad) of what we do in our lives. I cannot allow life to pass me by, I can't let my inability to see all of the path ahead paralyze me from moving forward, because when I refuse to move forward, well, I've still made a choice of a path, haven't I? I've chosen the path of sitting on my butt worrying. The thing is, I could find much more happiness by moving forward. It's ok to be afraid, it's ok to have misgivings, and it's ok if we pick the wrong path. Sometimes fate has a way of making things work out the way they were supposed to all along. Or at least that's what I hope happens.
When people ask me why I don't date I either shrug it off with a joke (my main deflecting skill) about how I'm too "set in my ways" or "too selfish." For even more comedic effect, I'll say something about how no one on the planet could possibly be good enough for me. When I try to be more serious in my answers, I say that I don't have a way to meet people since I don't go out to the clubs. And in a way, that is an honest answer. That's the only way I know of in Las Vegas, well...there's always Grindr. But that's not really so much a dating app as it is a let's-get-naked app. I don't know of any other ways, but in the 12 years that I've been there, have I tried finding any other ways? Well, of course not. I am friendly with a few other gay people I know through work, but none of them are my kind of good friend people. Not that they're bad people or anything, we just have differences that wouldn't make us real good friends outside of work. (I hope that makes sense...)
Well, once again, I thought I just had a little to write and all of a sudden I realize that I've gone on and on. Thanks for listening to the life lesson I learned today. I hope that it can be of use to someone else out there.
If you're coming to New York City, I HIGHLY recommend If/Then. It was great...Idina's voice is just amazing. I also recommend seeing Aladdin. Yes, it's Disney, but it was fantastic...just for the Genie, and no, he doesn't act like Robin Williams. He steals the show!! (That's why they gave him a Tony tonight!)
Here's a clip from If/Then for your viewing pleasure...