by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
June 5, 2007
TOSSING THE TORCH
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- The realization came upon me suddenly. It wasn't exactly the end of the world, as in T.S. Eliot's line, "This is the way the world ends; not with a bang, but a whimper," but it was as sudden as a bang and as subtle as a whimper.
The other two women in our conversation were chatting excitedly as we moved the contents of one art gallery to a facility offering three times the space. The owner is a friend of mine and I "mind the store," so to speak, a few days a week while she meets artists and assesses their work.
The rent is higher in this new location and as we lifted the paintings to the wall and placed the sculptures about the room we talked about the possibility of staging one-act plays on Saturday evenings to bring in revenue to support the gallery.
"What do you think, Connie?"
"I think it's a great idea!" I tossed the conversational ball back to them. From then on, I offered appropriate "ummms," or "ahhhs," and "oh, yes."
I praised, agreed, offered my take on the price of a ticket, but beyond that, said nothing. Oh, I smiled and enjoyed the premise, but for me to say nothing substantive was out of character.
I was sincerely interested, anxious to be involved, but never once said, "Oh, I can do that for you." My whole modus operandi ceased in a split-second. I was remembering the advice I once received that I never paid attention to: Virginia had said, "Connie, never volunteer. Just sit and smile and someone will always jump up and say 'I'll do it.'"
I never took Virginia's advice. Instead, I was always the one who jumped up and said I'd do it, got it done, and got the credit and praise. But I was also the one who was frazzled and irritable trying to do too much for too many; unfortunately, I only have two hands.
The anticipated crew members on these volunteer projects always seemed to have their priorities in order - and I placed mine out of whack more than once. Nevertheless, I didn't resent volunteering, and given the chance, I wouldn't do it any other way. But for the first time, I didn't jump to this opportunity.
I was totally involved as we hung the paintings, but I was a listener. I had so much I could offer, but I said nothing. On the inside I felt like Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney:
"Let's put on a show."
"I'll ask Farmer Jones if we can use the barn."
"I'll get the senior class to clean it out and set up chairs."
"Mills Music Store will lend me a piano."
"I'll paint the backdrop."
And, on and on, until the jobs were allocated and a show was put on. In my experiences, I had to do the jobs and get them done. But, I'll admit, I enjoyed every minute of it all. My adrenalin would rush and I loved the feeling.
But today was different. After the initial bang, when my lips were sealed and the "jump right in" moment passed, I felt a slowly spreading whimper of secret delight, and I knew the time was now. I tossed the torch to the next tier of women who make things happen; women who will thrive on the appreciation that comes with praise for a job well done. They will feel the surge of needed adrenalin going in, and they'll delight in the satisfaction of really doing what they started out to do.
I've relinquished my spot in the tier taking over in favor of advancing to the higher tier. My theme song now is from "La Cage Aux Folle:"
The best of times is now. What's left of Summer But a faded rose? The best of times is now. As for tomorrow, Well, who knows? Who knows? Who knows?