My husband and I lost a very dear friend just this past week. His name was Michael, and he endured a ridiculous amount of hardship in his life. He was one of the bravest people I knew, and I’m so honored to have known him. Michael was incredibly creative, not only did he create through drama and performance, he also spotted incredible talent in his friends and encouraged them to pursue the creative. Just recently he asked my husband to partner with him in a new adaptation of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Michael was working on the script, and he wanted Tyler to write the music. Tyler wanted to take on the job, but he was reluctant to accept because of the uncertainties of our life in finding a new job and house. Michael hadn’t worked with Tyler in years, but he was sure Tyler was best for the job. He urged over and over – assured of Tyler’s abilities. Such a true friend.
Michael was always doing that. In college, all theater majors had to direct a play or a show for their senior project. Several friends did smaller productions in the university’s smallest theatre. Some directed musicals with a small cast. Michael first pitched Into the Woods, a full stage Broadway Musical (incredibly ambitious) and wanted it performed on our campus auditorium that housed 4500 people. He was turned down.
Undeterred, Michael settled for the second largest venue in the school and directed Songs for a New World by Jason Robert Brown, a musical that doesn’t really have a plot; rather, the show loosely connects the varied characters through theme. Each character sings about a point in life when a huge decision has to be made. They’re all at a turning point in life, and they have to face life’s greatest questions all in one moment. It’s incredible – with stories ranging from American explorers to distanced lovers to a flag maker to an expectant mother, and everything in between, including Santa’s disenchanted wife.
Looking back, that was the perfect show for Michael to direct. He sought out the best of the best for the cast and crew. Everyone involved in the show knew afterwards they had experienced something life changing. And yet, this show also stands as the perfect embodiment of Michael’s life. Life threw him several, “What are you going to do?” moments, and he made a wide range of decisions. Sometimes he shook his fist at the world. Sometimes he ran far away from those who knew him. Finally, he came home. He embraced life and the power of redemption, and he started creating again. It’s a beautiful story really. One that ended too quickly.
I write all of this in order to offer a challenge. Whatever else you do in life, I urge you to embrace the creative.
Find creative people. Make things. Sing things. Play things. Write things. Love things.
The creative holds transformative power. The creative, more than anything else, connects us closer to The Creator. Because when you learn to create, you learn to love, and then you start to realize how you, a product of creation, can be so loved.
We love you, Mike. See you soon, buddy.