by Mary Ellen Stepanich
I’ve been faced with a situation recently that is similar to situations I’ve had in the past: i.e., making a difficult decision. That includes deciding whether or not to marry someone. A couple of times, I made a VERY wrong decision.
Today, I read the following statement in an article on inc.com (a website for people in business) that seemed to wrap it all up for me and tie it with a ribbon: “Find people you want to spend time with because you’re both working toward similar goals.”
In thinking about situations and groups (and marriages) I’ve been a part of – and where a great deal of conflict was generated – I realize that if I had followed this adage, I wouldn’t have had to endure so much grief. So, here are my goals for what little time I have left in my life:
I believe (I hope) that the members of my comedy barbershop quartet, Lilac Crazy, have been working toward the same goal: the goal of entertaining audiences, as opposed to winning medals or impressing judgmental people (who may or may not be judges), or even earning a lot of money. I sing because I have no choice. Music is at the center of my being. My soul would shrivel and die if I had no music in my life.
As far as writing groups are concerned, I want to work with other writers who have the same goal that I do – to write something that people will enjoy reading (and maybe even be willing to pay a little something for.) I don’t want to participate in a writing group that just wants to gossip, or to play games, even if they are word games. I’m like the Russian Army officer in the last Indiana Jones movie – “I want to learn!”
I also love acting in plays because that’s another way to entertain people. The play I was in this past November fulfilled all of my goals: fun people to work with, a role that had audiences laughing, and a director who was the best sort of director. If you did your job well, she praised you and didn’t try to change you to some preconceived notion she might have had. Mostly, she said nothing, but she laughed whenever I did something funny. (The director of the play I’m in now wouldn’t laugh if I slipped on a banana peel.)
So, fair warning. I’m seventy-seven years of age now, and I want my remaining years to be spent with people who want to work with me to achieve mutually agreed-upon goals. I have defined my goal this way: “To use my talents to help and to entertain people and to bring joy and laughter into their lives through music and comedy, both on stage and through the written word.” (…even if the stage might be in the corner of my living room.)
Go ahead and laugh – it’ll mean I’ve achieved one of my goals.
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.