The Golden Ticket

I spent all day yesterday seeing patients, having conversation, listening to patients and families. But in the back of my mind throughout the day, I was thinking about my plans for the evening. Having children of high school age means personal time is spent ferrying them to their various activities and school obligations. With the springtime comes the spring musical the high school performs. This year, my son will participate in the musical, Sister Act. You know, the one about the nun who hides out in the convent to escape her mob boss boyfriend? If that doesn’t ring any bells, it’s the one based on the movie with Whoopie Goldberg, and she ends up transforming the nuns into a zippy choir. Anyway, that’s what our local high school has decided to present. I’m looking forward to see it, and my son is excited to be involved.

This weekend, though, both my niece an nephew are performing in their high school music, Willy Wonka, The Musical. Yes, it’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory come to stage, with all the bright colors and crazy Oompa Loompas. I was looking forward to seeing how it all came together, and I was not disappointed. There were a few technical glitches, as expected with a high school performance, but overall the kids did a wonderful job.

As I sat listening to song after song, watching my niece and nephew give it their all in the performance, I was struck by the innocence of it all. They were blissfully unaware of the difficulties life brings, the challenges they will face, and the eventuality of their own deaths. For them, their life is now, here, in the moment. They have no reason to worry about anything major, especially not while performing for an attentive audience.

Were we all like that at one time? And if we were, when did that feeling of blissful ignorance leave us? When did the day to day drudgery begin to overtake us and the weight of the world begin to matter? It seems, in my humble opinion, that we spend the first part of our lives just enjoying the beauty of the world and all God has provided for us. We spend our early and middle adulthood trying out best to keep our heads down and just get through each day without any crises. Then we come to the later years and we somehow come back full circle to a carefree “whatever happens, happens,” existence (notwithstanding the very end of life difficulties and actively dying). You know what I’m talking about…the zero filter comments that start with, “When I was your age…” and usually end with some derogatory comment about clothing that’s too tight or hair that’s too long, or attitude that isn’t respectful. Either that or the regular offering of opinions not asked for about things that are not their business. I’m sure we have all been on the receiving end of an older person’s “wisdom,” when they decide to tell you you’re not going to succeed at that job, or that new girlfriend is from the wrong side of the tracks. They don’t care what they say, because they have nothing to lose. They have lived their lives and nothing they say or do is going to turn back the clock and add years back to them.

So there I sit, listening to the Candy Man song, which asks, Who can make the sunrise, sprinkle it with dew, cover it in chocolate and a miracle or two, the Candy Man can. I see the bright young faces and dancing on the stage. I realize how wonderfully apropos this musical is for these kids. It’s all about sunrises, dew, chocolate and miracles – the best things life can give. And the Candy Man in our lives is the God who showers us with these blessings. How wonderful that we start our lives with carefree exuberance and at life’s end come back to another carefree existence. The true miracle though, is if we could learn how to make the middle just as enjoyable and carefree as the beginning and the end. That would be the veritable Golden Ticket Charlie Bucket found in the the musical. What a blessing that would be.