On Doing the Thing You Don’t Want to Do

by | Jan 19, 2023 | What I'm Thinking | 0 comments

Obviously, you should not do everything you don’t want to do. Sometimes we don’t want to do things because they are dishonest or unethical or unsafe. I’m talking about doing things we don’t want to do out of inertia, lack of motivation, or simply laziness.

Like getting up earlier, exercising, doing housework, or following through on commitments. This past weekend, I had reserved or bought tickets for a number of MLK Day events. Honestly, when the time came to go to them,  I might well have bailed on both events except that 1) I had spent money for tickets to one of them and 2) I had gotten the last free tickets to the other one. I had no reason not to go to either one except that I didn’t feel like going out! Staying home and reading or watching another episode of the spy thriller I’ve been watching seemed more appealing. But for the reasons mentioned above (money spent, last two tickets) I went, and dragged my partner, who pretty much felt the same, along with me.

We were both so glad we went. Both events, “Hear Her Sing Her Song of Freedom” at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center and my city’s MLK Day luncheon, sponsored by the city’s office of DEI and the community center of the historically Black neighborhood were inspiring and left us feeling grateful for our community.  

It left me wondering: what is it about live performance and events that give us such a different experience? I don’t necessarily mean to contrast with a virtual version of a live event. I mean the difference between a TV series or a movie vs. a theatrical production. The production of a small, local theater company no doubt has a much smaller budget than the spy thriller or the movie. Yet I am always fascinated by what designers do with sets, costumes, lighting, and sound even in small theaters without a real stage to create an experience for an audience. Although I’ve certainly seen performances that were less than satisfying, for the most part, I leave live performances intrigued and impressed by the skills and expertise of the tech folks to create an experience that lifts udience members from their ordinary lives into another world. And of course, that says nothing about the people we think of as the stars of the show—the actors. 

My message this week (not that I always need to have a message) is to urge readers to support their local theater and musical performances. You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to see a big name in an arena. There’s probably all kinds of live performance in your immediate environs. Those artists need your support, and its likely they will repay it in ways you can’t even anticipate.

A note about the photo: I knew I wanted to write about reluctance, and I searched on wikimedia commons for public domain images related to that topic. For some reason, this image of Rebecca Wright Bonsal, a Quaker woman who lived in Virginia during the Civil War came up. She was a teacher who was fired for her Union sympathies, and after she learned some important tactical information regarding Confederate army plans she passed it along to an enslaved vegetable vendor who had connections to the Union army. The information led to a series of important Union victories, but Rebecca, her mother, and sisters (her father had already died in a Confederate prison) were eventually forced to leave Virginia for Philadelphia. I’m not sure why her photo comes up when I search for reluctance, but I imagine that she might have thought long and hard about passing along information. Her family suffered for its positions. On the other hand, I can imagine that she simply had an opportunity to share information and seized the moment with no reluctance whatsoever.

[Rebecca Wright Bonsal; LeRue Lemer 1889. Bonsal is about 60 years old in this portrait.]