The full irony in the title of this post only now hit me. My first of 52 Dates with Myself began with a stage play presented by all for One productions, inc.
This past Sunday while searching for ideas for my first date, I stumbled upon a list of events scheduled for the Allen County Public Library. Among those was a production of Jane Austen’s Emma. The last of six shows was set for that very same day at 2:30 p.m.
“Shoot,” I thought, and continued scanning the list. But I came back, clicked through to learn more, called the telephone number given for tickets, and in a spontaneous moment asked, “Why not?” After all, it was Jane Austen’s Emma!
The curtain would go up in 90 minutes. I had to decide quickly to throw aside the work I’d planned for the day – sitting on my bed developing a training workshop for a client– and put myself in good form for my first date. A sense of excitement surged through me even as a bit of guilt staked claim in the back of my mind asking, “Are you sure?”
I recognized this mental tug of war. Hadn’t I played it out on other date opportunities? Should I? Shouldn’t I? Like plucking petals from a daisy, “He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me….” Only this time, it’s, “I love me. I love me not.”
“No! I will make this choice for myself. With clear and intentional purpose, I will decide that I am choosing this opportunity, that I am selecting this activity, that I am setting aside something else – at least for these particular moments of my life. I will enjoy that I am open to spontaneity. I will recognize that the arts speak to my heart, that stories capture my imagination and emotions. I will pluck the last petal and no matter what end with, ‘I love me.’”
“Yes, I am sure!”
A cold but gloriously sunny winter day greeted me on the drive downtown. A uniformed security guard greeted me at the front door of the Allen County Public Library. It was only my second visit to this main branch in the 3 ½ years I have lived here. I was surprised as I had been the first time by its size, scope, and the guard.
When the elevator door opened on lower level 2, I stepped into an unremarkable, windowless, industrial tiled, room furnished with an assortment of tables. My heart sank a little – not quite the elegant theater atmosphere I’d imagined. “Keep going, you’ve only stepped out of the elevator,” I encouraged myself.
Within three or four steps, a woman with a broad smile greeted me warmly and introduced herself as Sharon Henderson. Ticket in hand, I relaxed a bit and glanced around to take in my surroundings. A colorful display off to one side caught my eye, and I headed toward it. A tagline in the display center read, “…impacting our culture for God through the arts.” Colorful brochures explained in detail various programs of the organization, all for One productions, inc. or afO.
Sharon returned to my side and began sharing with me the story of afO. Her warmth and inviting nature made it easy for me to reveal this was my first of 52 Dates with Myself and that I was blogging about it.
Our conversation was interrupted numerous times as Sharon excused herself to personally greet each patron as he or she stepped from the elevator. Nearly all of them she knew by name. Once when she returned, she explained to me that relationships were one of the highest values of all for One. Clearly, she lived this value.
The story of all for One productions, inc. fascinated me, as did my new acquaintance with its executive director, Sharon Henderson. I felt like I had made a wonderful discovery within my hometown and the “show” had yet to begin. So far, I was pleased with my first date.
(For more about all for One productions, inc. and their upcoming performances visit their website at www.allforonefw.org. Current programs include the Character Counts Series: educational assembly programs for schools, Young Playwrights Festival: an annual competition for students, Home Stage Productions: an annual series of stage performances, and The Spotlight Series: an annual spotlight performance of an explicitly Christian work.)