All Out Of Ink

May 20, 2011

“This Ain’t No Dress Rehearsal” (or, Make the Words Count)

Filed under: Inspiration,Pieces of Life — Laynie @ 12:58 am

“How are you today?” I asked the man as I began scanning his groceries.
“Fine thanks, and you?” he responded.
“I’m doing alright,” I said.
“Good,” he said. “Because this is your life. It ain’t no dress rehearsal.”

I was in a drama group that summer. I spent a lot of time practicing and performing a long play, so I was quite familiar with rehearsals. We did plenty of them. There was about an 8-week window during which I worked at a grocery store as a cashier. I interacted with lots of people. I don’t remember most of them now. In fact, I don’t remember a whole lot about that summer at all. It has become a bit faded in my memory, along with a few other large chunks of my high school years when I was getting very little sleep. (Yes, lack of sleep affects long-term memory too.) Out of all the people whose money I handled and whose food I touched, I remember that man. He only bought a couple of items. He was there less time than most. Those were the only words I remember exchanging, though I probably responded agreeably and wished him a pleasant day. Yet, it was that man who voiced the wisdom I needed most.

I can’t talk like that. I can’t use “ain’t” and “no” one right after the other without sounding like I’m making fun of someone. I kind of wish I could. “This is not a dress rehearsal” just doesn’t have the same effect. It sounds more like a teacher giving a book-learned lecture than a man who’d lived life and come by the wisdom honestly.

While I can’t talk like that, I want to write like that. I want to write words that carry wisdom and meaning far beyond the capacity of the letters and spaces. I want to join experience with expression so one can carry the other. There’s an authenticity I crave in my work that doesn’t come from being a writer. It comes from being a person, living life, seeing others do the same. I desire to impart knowledge as that man did in the checkout line at Winn-Dixie some random summer afternoon to a girl he’d never seen before and would never see again.

Did that man know he was saying something I’d remember 15 years later? I doubt it. I wish I could tell him. Then again, it’s probably best I can’t. I’d have to also admit I didn’t listen until a long time later when I finally realized I’d made far too many “safe” mistakes. Now, though, I know there’s no waiting to see how it turns out so I can make better choices next time. I really do only get one shot at this.

I need to take the chances that create the wisdom that makes me different.
I need to take the time to write the words that mean the most.
I need to live the life that’s worth the space those words take up.

“This ain’t no dress rehearsal.”

I need to make it count.

1 Comment »

  1. Hi, just wanted to say, I enjoyed this post. It was practical.

    Keep on posting!

    Comment by marketing seo — January 27, 2014 @ 7:58 pm | Reply

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