They Can’t Say That I DIDN’T Write!
by Mary Ellen Stepanich
I received a call last week from a gal who lives here in my retirement community. I used to sing with her in an ensemble that entertained annually in our community “Follies,” an amateur talent show I helped initiate 17 years ago. As singers, we weren’t that great, but we had a wonderful time together and were welcome entertainers at local church dinners and nursing homes.
When Jean called, she begged me to go with her to see the movie, Florence Foster Jenkins. I had heard from another singer friend that it was a great film. However, I had so many appointments I didn’t see how I could squeeze it in. I called the theater and found one time – 1:20 p.m. on Tuesday – that fit between my morning and late afternoon engagements.
I didn’t know much about the title character, other than what I’d heard from friends about her: that she wasn’t a very good singer. I wasn’t looking forward to spending two or more hours listening to someone sing flat! However, as the music in the closing scenes (finally on key!) filled the theater, I was surprised to realize that I really enjoyed the film. Then it dawned on me that the message of the movie was much more profound than the superficial comedy most of the audience enjoyed.
You see, I had just seen a webinar earlier the same week analyzing the film Die Hard. The speakers were showing how to find the real theme of a movie. As a result, I was watching Florence Foster Jenkins from two perspectives: one as the enjoying observer and one as the story analyzer. What struck me as profound was the main character’s last line in the film: “They might say that I can’t sing – but they can’t say that I DIDN’T sing.” And THAT was the theme or message I derived from the film.
We may not live up to the high standards people might set for certain professions or artistic abilities, but the important thing is that we DO IT ANYWAY. For example, I have always felt that one of my singer friends doesn’t think much of my writing – she seems to look down her nose at what I write. However, I HAVE WRITTEN. And some people even like and enjoy what I write.
Florence Foster Jenkins did what she did for love of the art of singing, for the love of music, and for a deep desire to help the world to share her passion for music. The message seems to be, “Don’t listen to the naysayers. Go ahead and follow your passion with love.”
I feel the same way about the written word as I do about music. Well-written words “sing” to me. I have a passion for putting my thoughts into words. Therefore, I am here to bring to you this message: “They might say that I can’t write, but they can’t say that I didn’t write.”
So friends, keep writing!
Dr. Mary Ellen Stepanich is a retired professor of organizational behavior who always told her students at Purdue, “I’m very organized, but my behavior is a bit wonky.” She has published articles in academic journals (boring), show scripts for barbershop choruses and quartets (funny), and an award-winning radio play, “Voices from the Front,” for Sun Sounds of Arizona (heartrending). Mary Ellen lives in Peoria, Arizona, with her cat, Cookie, and blogs on her website, MaryEllenStepanich.com.