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post #44
bio: jen
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12/23/2004
16:55

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The Talent Show

My friend, E, works with adults with developmental disabilities. These adults range in age from their twenties to their fifties, but mentally many of them are seven to thirteen.

On one hand, it must be great to stay a child forever. On the other hand, imagine being an adult with an adult body, seen as an adult by others, but not really an adult. At times, that must be confusing or terrifying.

As an adult, I like to think that I have some power in my world. My brain can process things quick enough to get through the day with ease and success. I have an independence which must be taken for granted in order to get anything done. If I need to be somewhere, I get there. If I need to do something, I do it.

Recently, E invited me to a talent show she was co-hosting up in the valley. Always interested in seeing new places, to show support for E, and because it could just be fun, I decided to go.

On Sunday morning, the traffic was light on the 405, so I zoomed north at freeway speed to the 101 and found the exit. So this is what the other side of the Santa Monica Mountains looks like---malls, lots of malls.

I arrived at the Community Center, paid ten dollars, got a cup of coffee, and said hi to E who was bouncing around. There were tables with centerpieces, raffles, and a silent auction. The talent show was also a fundraiser for the group to take field trips throughout the year.

Luckily, I arrived just in time for the main event---the talent show. On the Community Center stage with lighting and sound cues was singing, dancing, and joke telling in a two act revue format. I've seen a lot of performance in my time, but this one really made me smile. At first, I questioned why I was smiling---was I smiling out of some liberal guilt---I had to enjoy it because the performers were developmentally disabled.

Then, I realized that there was true joy in the room. It was a sincere performance with the both the performers and audience happy to be there. It was a happiness for something that was there in the moment. Soon it will be gone but talked about in the months to come

Family and friends in the audience clapped and cheered maybe because they felt that they were in a special moment. After some performances, it would be announced that a certain performer had been working at a grocery store for fifteen years or some other amount of time. This led to more clapping for that accomplishment, and the performer beamed.

I constantly measure my own accomplishments. I'm not doing enough---must do more! Must do more! More! More! At the talent show, I let myself slow down for an afternoon as I realized that there is no one way to measure your life. Your life is what you make of it with what you have. So what am I gonna do today?

We all have talents to show. How are we gonna show them?

Part of me would love to end this with some great holiday message about cherishing the non-material in life or finding joy in simplicity or how life is just a collection of moments passing or how we should be more tolerant or peace on earth or how angels get their wings, but all that would just be schmaltzy.


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