It’s Okay To Leave at Intermission

When we moved to Louisville from the Pacific Northwest, there were lots of things we left behind – friends, family, real mountains, being close to the ocean, I could go on and on. To compensate for our losses, we bought season tickets to local Broadway productions. Cinderella, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera.

Tonight’s performance was Dirty Dancing. At first I was going to take a friend (except that I’m new in town and haven’t met that many yet). Then I realized it was my only night at home with my husband. Although he wasn’t thrilled about going, he decided to be my date so we could have a night out together.

I had just started working a new job, and it’s night shift, so after being out almost every night for two weeks, I was exhausted. I thought about selling the tickets at the last minute, but decided against it.

Now I’m not the world’s biggest Dirty Dancing fan, but I thought it would be fun and an excuse to get out of the house. So my husband and I got dressed up, went to dinner, then headed downtown to see the play.

Soon after it started, I knew it was a bomb. The acting was flat, the scenery boring, and the dancing was only marginally good. I kept hoping it would improve, but no. And then, the woman behind us to the left (you know the one – the lady who laughs too loud, even when the jokes are a hundred miles from funny?) started singing with all of the songs. Singing. Out loud. And, oh, I forgot the chair kicking.

I wanted to run screaming. How could I trade a lovely night on the couch eating ice cream with bourbon sauce and watching Scandal for a team of awkward thespians attempting to stir the nostalgia in our hearts over a 1987 B movie? I could tell my husband felt the same – I could sense his eye rolling, hear his exasperated sighs, and watch as he glanced back at Miss Singing-Laughing-Kickingpants. How long could this torture continue? I tried to gauge where we were in the story. We were long past halfway through. Oh no, no intermission? Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

No, we were not having the time of our lives.

And then, miracle of miracles, INTERMISSION. Thoughts ran through my head. “These tickets are worth over $50 each.” “We’re already here, we might as well stay.” “I should have sold these while I had the chance!” And really, that’s about all I’ve got. I looked at my husband, gave the stink eye to our friend in the row behind us, and scooted our way past the long row of other people’s knees and never looked back.

No one puts baby in a corner.

Reflecting on this evening in light of my life as a story – there have been times, many times, where I’ve been sorely disappointed in the story I was living. What I really thought would be a glitzy, well-choreographed production complete with a full orchestra often turned out to be an awkward and flat performance, portrayed by an actor (myself) who appeared just as bored as the audience. NO ONE wants to watch that show.

Sometimes, when you realize the show is a bomb, you choose to not stay for the end of the show. It doesn’t matter what you paid for the tickets or what others around you may think.

The story is just not good.

Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and leave at intermission.

Here are some examples of my own story where I “left at intermission.”

  • I once had a job that I hated. Every Sunday afternoon I would start to get anxious, because I knew Monday was just around the corner. Every week day I awoke with a pit in my stomach having to face another day. I was so relieved when I was able to leave that job. I could have stayed there and had a long career, but my soul would have died.
  • Early in our marriage, we wore masks of contentment, but underneath was bitterness and contempt. Our marriage was broken and empty. I had never been so alone. We both walked out at intermission – however, we walked out together on the horrible story we were telling. We did some rewriting and revised the story, and Thank You, Jesus, we are still married today.
  • When I tried to reconcile with someone who had deeply hurt me and scarred my soul, they not only refused to take responsibility, but tried to place the responsibility on my shoulders. Sorry. No. That show is over. No second act to follow.
  • As a middle-aged women facing an empty nest, my job as a hospice nurse had become my source of significance. I had a hard time knowing who I was apart from that, and certainly didn’t dare to dream about such silly things as writing. But something more was calling me. I’m still not sure exactly what the second act will be, but I left behind the stagnant first act and started dreaming again.

Are you stuck in the middle of a bad, or worse yet boring, first act? What is keeping you at the play? Do you have the courage to leave at intermission so you can be free to live a great and meaningful second act?

And here I am, beginning to live my dream, learning to write again. Many thanks to you, dear Reader

And I owe it all to you . . .

The rest of this #write31days series, Date to Dream- Finding Your Dream (Again) can be found here