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Every Thank You Tells a Story, Part Two

By Cameron Dokey - April 26, 2012

Well, I knew it had to happen. I just didn't expect it to happen so soon. "Be consistent," Matt, my web designer told me. "You don't have to blog every week, but do it on a regular timeframe. That way, people will know when to come back to the site."

Ok, I thought. I can do that. Every other week sounds about right. And, since my first post was on a Wednesday, that translated to every other Wednesday. I actually managed it for three weeks running. Then came last week--and this one too, if it comes to that. The weeks when If I Take On One More Thing My Head Will Explode. And the blog went down the drain. But the trouble with not doing something you've told yourself you absolutely will is that then you feel guilty about it. So instead of feeling relieved that I gave myself permission to take something off the list, I beat myself up. I mean, let’s face it: What kind of person puts off saying thank you?

So, finally, here I am, desperate to redeem myself. This week is all about picking up where I left off last time. And that means it's really all about thanking one person: James Edmondson.

My guess is that most of us have someone in our lives like Jimmie. The person not your parents to whom you would say, "Without you, I would not be the person I am today." And you would mean this in a good way. In the best possible way. In the late 1970s, I pretty much changed the entire trajectory of my life to go and work with Jim at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival when he offered me the role of Jo in Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey. I would end up spending four years in Ashland. Of course I learned all kinds of things, and made friends who are still close today. (Don’t worry guys. Your thank yous are coming.) But it was what I learned from Jimmie that has formed the core of so many things that followed.

It was Jimmie who taught me that that life, and the creative endeavors with which you choose to fill it, are collaborative, even if you work alone. He taught me to listen, both on and offstage. Even more, he taught me to want to, to recognize that sometimes your best choice is to step out of the light rather than to always insist on standing center stage. From Jimmie, I learned to strive. Not in a competitive way, but in a way that made me want to be more in the next moment than I am in this one. The plain and simple truth, I guess, is that he taught me how to grow up.

Now—did I/do I always live up to all the fine statements I’ve just made? I’m the woman who put off doing the blog even when she knew she shouldn’t. You figure it out. But the thing is, I always want to. And I think that counts. I have never forgotten the lessons I learned during those years, even on the days when putting them into action is a struggle. On the day we opened A Taste of Honey, as is often traditional, Jimmie wrote me a card. On it is a drawing of a red geranium, just like the ones he always used to grow in his garden. And inside are the following words: Remember to give it with love.

I think that pretty much sums it up, don’t you?

And the next post really will be on Wednesday, May 2nd—two weeks from when I was supposed to post this one! I promise …