It all started in the Spring Quarter in my high school English III class. Our teacher, Mr. Jones, created a reader’s theater centered around Thorton Wilder’s classic American play, Our Town. This play powerfully expresses how little we really appreciate life and pay attention to each other until it is too late. “A constant theme in the play is the human tendency to miss the simple joys of their lives. Throughout the play, characters learn of opportunities and experiences missed while paying attention to other, less important things.” (Gradesaver.com)
I was selected to read the part of George Gibbs, the main male character of the play. Another classmate, Sue (her name has been changed), read the part of Emily Webb, the lead female character. As we sat together, Sue and I fell in love reading this play in class and started dating. This is beside the point. In the play, the children, George and Emily, are next-door neighbors in Grover’s Corners who grow up, fall in love, get married, and inherit George’s uncle’s farm. Tragically, Emily dies in childbirth.
In an after-death scene, Emily converses with other deceased individuals. She asks her mother-in-law, “Live people don’t understand, do they?” “No, dear—not very much,” replies Mrs. Gibbs. Emily asks another question, “They’re sort of shut up in little boxes, aren’t they?”
Emily misses life so much and so selects to return to witness one of her childhood birthdays as a detached observer. As she watches, she becomes distraught, “I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed.” Then she moans, “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?—every, every minute?”
Monday is Valentine’s Day. But of what value is Valentine’s Day if we live in our own little shut-up boxes and fail to enjoy each other? How tragic if at the end of the day, when it is too late, we have missed the simple joy of fellowship and companionship. Jesus said, “I came that you may have life and have it abundantly.” Let’s enjoy life and each other intentionally every day, not just on Valentine’s Day. Life is too short to be wasted on other things. (I am preaching to myself.)