It's Table Topics at nerdmasters, and you're handed the topic you must speak on for one to two minutes: tell a story about a celebrity you've met somewhere, somehow, and elaborate if you need to from there (which is code for 'make it up if you have to.')
I didn't have to; between my job in advertising and my job as an actress, I've worked with dozens of them. But I didn't talk about the stars who worked for me as a copywriter, nor the stars I worked with as an actor. I didn't even talk about the time when, as a seriously crushing six-year-old, I met my idol, Miss America.
This is all significant because when someone before me had been asked the same question, and I'd run through all these in my head as possibilities. But in the moment, I decided to let go and see who else showed up. And it was Mrs. Loyal Davis, a.k.a. "Edith", a.k.a. mother of Nancy Davis Reagan, a.k.a. mother-in-law of then-Governor Ronald.
We met when I was 10, on some trip to Arizona. My father loved Arizona, so we went every spring. And his father, my grandfather, a terrific bon vivant who'd been chummy with Edie back in the heyday of Chicago radio, apparently insisted that Dad drop by and pay his respects when he was in town. Edie was getting up there and, well, you know.
Or maybe you don't. Or perhaps you've forgotten what it's like to be 10 and in a very hot and boring place full of adults you don't even know. At one point, when my dad was called away to something, the phone, most likely, I was left to my own devices. And Edie, Mrs. Davis, some bajillion-year-old lady who I didn't know from a hole in the ground, called me over to her.
"What's your name?"
"Mm. How old are you, Colleen?"
She looked my scrawny, 10-year-old self up and down, then beckoned me to come closer.
Ugh. For sure she was going to smell like old lady. And something bad like cheek pinching or admonishing or other Stupid Adult Behavior was going to happen.
"Colleen, I want you to remember something..."
She paused ever so briefly, and then, what I surely would have seen as a twinkle if I'd been sporting a clue, hissed, "They won't buy the cow if you give away the milk for free."
* * *
A perfect story, a gem of a moment, it had been lying under the dead weight of a hundred canned tales I'd been rehearsing in my head. And when I let them go? Just like that, there it was. As if it had happened a moment ago. As if I was 10 again...and 45 right now...and, oddly enough, beyond the veil, if you catch my drift, all at the same time.
That, I think, is Lesson #4: Everything is a breath away from everything else.
Whether you like it or not. Whether you believe it or not.
And maybe, there is a Lesson #5 in there as well:
It is not necessary for you to believe in it for it to be true...just to make itself known...