In recent years, like most of us, I have aged, experienced the loss of family and friends and seen my children grow into busy adults. During this time, there have been numerous changes in the way communication can happen, but the actual intent has stayed exactly the same – reaching out. The best way to describe our contact with family and friends is to see if they a playbill or a newspaper.
The annual “newspapers” in my life always make contact with a Christmas letter or card and remain that way even with the ease of texing, email and Facebook. The daily “newspapers always are in contact with news, happiness and tragedy, reassuring hugs and conversation even more so with all the new options of Facebook, email, text and Twitter. They are true “smiling” faces when I need them. There is however, a small group, which makes communication questionable, these are on the surface perfect, polished and decorated ‘Playbills” in my life, and more often than not, are more of a somber frown than smile.
Playbills only reach out to me if they have great personal news to share and need to be appreciated, patted on the back and praised or to hear them out as them deliver the polar opposite in their own tragedy or loss, needing to be given reassurance, understanding and agreement in their view of the situation. There is no truer thespian than these players of communication. Playbills don’t really ask about your life, give concern or offer to help if they can or at the very least just let you know they are really there, an electronic or warm human shoulder to cry on.
I know daily collectives of newspapers seem a bit much, when emails of additional inspiration are randomly sent along with occasional jokes or cartoons. What makes them worth the while however, is the unspoken compassion that comes through, when you need it the most. Newspapers are glad when you insert your comments to their ever mindful editor, cry together over an obituary and delight in an article of personal gain or growth. They also love having endless photos of babies and dogs, trips and experiences submitted for approval and will turn around and reciprocate, adding their comments to further this soulful subscription of communication.
Somewhere I read – probably in a newspaper, that life is a stage and we are all just actors playing a part. I can respect that and on most days appreciate it as well. However, when you realize some of the people in your life only exist upon their decorated stage, it becomes painful to admit they are not really in your life at all. The lights and excitement surrounding a production always draw us in, and we vicariously wish to be playing a part as we hold the playbill close. However, there is nothing darker and more tragic than a stage after the performance is over and the lights are off. It is just empty with an echo of emotion. Exactly what happens when their conversation or contact ends.
As a child I grew up reading the “funnies” first thing in the morning with my mother. It was a tradition I maintained until this past spring when she passed and my subscription ended. I still have many yellowed cartoon strips cut out and pasted into my cookbook because they touched me in some way. This is why, I appreciate having those individual newspapers in my life, knowing someone cares to give me the facts even if I don’t want but need them; they share advise now and then and we laugh over a personal experience. Regardless what the situation, it is in the true black and white of humanity that they are there and I know I can rely on them for anything.
The best part about newspapers, is even after they have changed in color, ripped, faded or have been tucked away and forgotten for a while, they remain steadfast, and the news they want to share is still there. Playbills on the other hand, loose their meaning right after the production is finished; they end up blowing in the wind getting caught in a random fence or against an ally wall. You may see them from time to time and remember some brilliant image or scripted line, but it doesn’t stay very long and like the play itself, it is only there briefly, moving along in search of another great review. Think about it, when was the last time an actor stopped you and offered a compliment on something you did, wanted to buy you a cup of coffee or asked for an autograph?
Yes, newspaper makes my hands dirty and sometimes it piles up demanding attention when I might have let my own life take center stage. But when it is all said and done in life and the final curtain falls, I will be the one looking at a newspaper for reassuring information and reviews, leaving the playbills to mark nothing more than the end of yet another lonely, selfish but always personally important production.