I’m not naïve—I understand the “circle of life” and that all living things eventually die. It’s the fragility that troubles me; the mere notion that life as we know it can come to an abrupt halt, suddenly and without warning, niggles at me and keeps me awake at night.
So, I lost a dear friend this week.
Quite unexpectedly, her candle was snuffed out after complications from surgery, and I’m feeling a little lost as I process the information alongside others who cared about her. I’m not naïve—I understand the “circle of life” and that all living things eventually die. It’s the fragility that troubles me; the mere notion that life as we know it can come to an abrupt halt, suddenly and without warning, niggles at me and keeps me awake at night.
I know, I know: live in the moment, grab the gusto, stop and smell the roses, blah, blah, blah. Those platitudes are coming at me fast and furious these days, as well-meaning folks seemingly crawl out of the woodwork in an attempt to soothe my broken heart. In point of fact, I believe that I do live in the moment, and have left few stones unturned in my lifelong effort to grab that gusto, but still… at any given moment, on any given day, any one of us could be, oh, I don’t know, hit by a bus. Perhaps that’s why I live in the country where actual busses are few and far between.
Still, the ephemeral nature of life itself is all around us, especially at this time of year. The lifecycle of a common house fly for example, (0.06 years) is so fleeting that it seems incomprehensible that they can bug us so much in such a short period of time. Conversely, northern California’s redwoods can live for thousands of years, but there’s no escaping the fact that one day, they too, will cease to exist. “No time like the present,” my dear departed mother would say, and with that in mind, I decided to get out last Friday, even though only 24 hours had passed since my pal had left this mortal coil. “You could use the distraction,” Mom would intone, wagging a lacquered nail in my general direction. “Go,” she’d say, “You know that I’m right.”
Every year at this time, the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA) presents a pop-up exhibit titled “Art in Bloom and Verse,” featuring live floral arrangements paired with original poetry inspired by the paintings and sculptures of local artists. “It’s well worth seeing, but we have to hurry,” I told a friend when suggesting she accompany me to the DVAA. “It only lasts a few days, and is ‘on view for one weekend only due to the perishable nature of the plant life,’” I explained, reading from the press release. All told, nine artists were represented in this unique, if fleeting, exhibit, accompanied by beautiful, fragile floral designs thoughtfully created in concert with the art, all enhanced by the live poetry readings written specifically for this ephemeral event, which has already (not unlike Elvis) left the building.
It is an absolute honor to co-curate this year’s show,” Kristen Porter said addressing the crowd. “The floral interpretations and poetry really bring the art to life.” Yes, I’ve written about this show in past years and suggested that you all put it on your calendars, given the transient aspect of the annual exhibit. If you didn’t catch it this time around, there’s always next year, right? Hmmm.
While taking in the delicate nature of “Art in Bloom,” I chatted with co-curator Matt Carpenter, who suggested that I cross the street (literally) to catch him and fellow performers Laurie A. Guzda, Susan Mendoza, Heidi Mollenhauer, R. Scott Porter and Hudson Williams-Eynon at the ultra-cool Emerald Ballroom, situated beneath The Heron restaurant in Narrowsburg, where an honest-to-goodness speakeasy once stood. The show, “Up and Coming: A Modern Comedy with Rustic Humor,” was “sketch comedy,” Carpenter explained, which made me nervous. “No, no—it’s great!” Carpenter exclaimed, when I suggested that I’m not much of an improv fan. “It’s scripted, and we have great stuff written by the cast with additional material by George Strakosch and Bizzy Coy. We all know how you feel about her,” he said with a wink, alluding to my mild obsession with Coy and her mad writing skills. “Fine, I’ll come,” I said, “But you had all better bring your A-game. I’ve had a rough week.”
“Be kind,” Matt said. “Be good,” I shot back. And what do you know? They were. Backed by Bob Lohr (on keyboards) and Steve Tanczyn (on drums), the cast took the audience on a dizzying ride peeking into the world of second-home owners mixing it up with the locals, spoofing the real estate market, old hippies and the ups and downs of country life, replete with clever (IMHO) original music and lyrics written by Mollenhauer, who knows her way around a musical. Can you still catch the show? Yes, but you had better hurry, especially since last week’s performances sold out quickly. To reserve a seat, call Laurie A. Guzda at 570/335-6824.
Oh, and call your mother, because no one, and nothing, lasts forever. All we are is dust in the wind.