Back almost a decade ago I was at the beginning of my career as a musical theatre actor. Due to the gypsy lifestyle that goes hand in hand with this career I have a large cast of characters that have made their entrance into my life. Some continue to stay in my life now that I no longer pursue this career, but others came in, made a bold impression, and faded into the wings.
One of my first jobs in the theatre out of college was in the ensemble of SHOWBOAT. This show was done with a single company in which we performed for a total of 4 months at two different theatres across the country from one another. One of the supporting roles in this show is “Queenie.” In our company of actors this role was performed by a woman named Annie.
Annie was a tall and shapely African American woman, standing well over 6 feet, quick to smile and laugh. She had performed in productions of SHOWBOAT for years in theatres throughout the country as she perfectly fit the role of “Queenie,” which is extremely hard to cast. And though I spent 4 months of my life with her, both on the stage and back at actor’s housing, I can’t say I got to know her well, but I will say she great affected my life.
Annie was eccentric. At any moment you could walk into the green room back stage and find Annie swaying from side to side. If you caught her eye she would just look at you, smile and say, “Doin’ my exercises,” and continue on. Not knowing how to reply I would just smile and move onto the next thing. Mostly you would find her humming to herself or quietly watching the activity until her next entrance on stage. But if you did engage Annie in conversation you would find she would focus on something else entirely. She was a master at pointing out the mundane things we take for granted in our everyday lives. As you came into the backstage area to begin getting ready for the show you would undoubtedly hear her saying, “You have a green bag. You’re so lucky,” or “You got your haircut. You’re so lucky,” or “You got a ride to the theatre. You’re so lucky.”
As you can imagine, this became a catch phrase for the whole cast. Most of us were young and silly and would teasingly use this phrase with one another. I would walk into the dressing room, say something about my day and someone would reply, “You’re so lucky,” and we would all smile or laugh. Or another girl would be talking about getting a manicure or going shopping and in all likelihood someone would say, “You’re so lucky.” Even years afterward if I ran into someone from that cast, Annie and her “so lucky” attitude would come up in conversation.
As time passes and I hear less and less from the people involved in that show I realize what a genius Annie truly was. Her affirmation for luck and gratitude has crept into my everyday life. Probably a week does not go by where either my husband or I will look at each other and say, “You’re so lucky.” This is usually stated over something trivial just as Annie would point out, but as soon as you recognize it, that small, trivial issue or item offers comfort in its presence. And as I have found gratitude in the wonderful small essences of my life I find more and more to be grateful for.
Bringing gratitude into the Bikram classroom can at times be a difficult thing. What I love most about this practice is that it will challenge you everyday if you only accept the challenge. And as I practice and teach others I see how the best of a person comes shining through when they truly commit themselves to the task at hand.
But sometimes it’s best to have an “Annie” attitude when you feel like you’re clawing your way to the end of class. Remembering how lucky you are to have….water in you water bottle. To have fresh air to breathe. To be able to feel the pull and the stretch. To enjoy sweat raining off of your elbow or your knee in Tree Pose. To be able to hear the drum of your heart as you get into Savasana after Full Locust. I will have to remind you – You are so lucky….
Thanks Annie – I was lucky to have met you.