Paying it forward, paying it back

Author and family, Scandinavian show circa 1998

Author and family, Scandinavian show circa 1998

Are you doing something you love now because of a serendipitous involvement you had in the past?  If so, is it time to pay it forward by paying it back?

Perhaps a chance encounter at an art show drew you in to doing something visually creative. Or helping out with table decorations at a school auction reminded you that you liked sewing and crafting. Or you attended a performance where there was audience participation and suddenly you recollected how much you liked to sing (or dance or act).

Perhaps your unexpected volunteering experience propelled you into love.  Or maybe something  your son or daughter was engaged in (sports, theater, music) caused you to try something new, maybe recreational soccer or taking acting classes.

My story might be your story.  Twenty years ago, after seeing a piece about the newly forming arts organization I called Dick Lewis, the person mentioned in the article to find out how I could help.  Dick asked me if I could sing!  Well, sure I’d sung – in the shower! But not in any formal experience.   Dick, in his enthusiasm, convinced me to audition for something called the Christmas Revels.  I told him I would and that I was bringing a friend who could sing.  Well that audition led to place in the chorus for both of us. Although I will confess I stood through the first retreat rehearsal terrified that someone would find me out and kick me out. And how I wanted to stay surrounded by the joy of singing. A door was opening on a new world.

That first experience unfolded for me in a magical way, and I became a committed Revels amateur – doing something for the love of it.  I had a very young family at the time (two kids aged 4 and 8) and here I was leaving them every Monday night to sing and for a whole week of evenings as we rehearsed and staged the production.  The experience was contagious though and in a few years both my husband and kids joined the Revels community.

What the organization has given to me is immeasurable – I received an incredible gift of participating in music and dance. I started singing regularly (as did the rest of my family); I joined a folk dance group of which I am now the “artistic” dance director fulfilling a childhood dream to develop/choreograph dances.  I’m involved in an on-line poetry group with thoughtful and talented writers.  I widened my circle of friends to include even more incredibly talented individuals of all ages.   All of these things due to one rather random phone call and the enthusiasm and positive nature of one person.

I get fairly misty eyed when I think of the bounty this opening door exposed me to.  I stepped through its threshold and am personally richer for it. I hope others have been enriched by my presence.

And I know I am beholden to the organization and its community.

My kids are mostly grown, I’m in pretty comfortable circumstances and I have the time and resources now, to pay it back.  I support this organization financially and through volunteer activities because I want to see it thrive for the next generation.  I want other people to experience the joy and exhilaration of discovering a creative part of their souls.  After all, why should this kind of magic be limited to just a few who have money or “talent” or connections.

Organizations like this deserve our support.  If you’ve had this kind of experience, isn’t’ it time to pay it forward by paying it back?