Lifestyle & Culture

Lessons from Elaine Stritch

January 31, 2016




I OFTEN WISH I could give up the starring role in my life and instead just have a small part in a crowd scene, maybe even one without any lines. Being the center of my own attention is exhausting. And the worst part is that the performance is ongoing; there are no days off or nights when the theater is dark. It’s work, work, work until the show closes.

A few nights ago I watched a rewarding documentary on Netflix about the former Broadway actress Elaine Stritch, who died last July at the age of 89. The film centers on her life just two years earlier when, at 87, she was still a pistol with legs to die for, pitching her salty personality and a lifetime of show tunes to sell-out crowds around the country. The film is called Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, and if you can find it somewhere, see it. It is both a total hoot and a lesson in how to drain every last drop of flavor from life.

The film is full of important truths, but one which struck me hard and has stayed with me was when Elaine, battling diabetes and losing, recounted her father’s favorite expression: “Everybody’s got a sack of rocks. That was such a great way of putting it…. everbody’s got a sack of rocks.”

It’s a hard thing to remember, but if you can, it helps in almost every situation that might otherwise dissemble into negativity, anger or frustration. It’s sort of like realizing, when you’re stuck in traffic, that you are also “the traffic,” it’s not just the other people in those other cars. Everyone’s trying to get somewhere, just like you. And they all have a sack of rocks in the back seat.

— Andrea Rouda
Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid.

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