There is a great quote from the movie Shall We Dance. I’m going to adjust it a bit, because she is speaking to her husband. Susan Sarandon’s character, Beverly, says, “We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet, what does any one life really mean? [Another can say] ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness’.” The idea of being a witness to the life of another resonated deeply and the thought has stayed with me. When I am present with another, whether he or she is performing in a band, singing a song, running a marathon or living a life inspired by passion, I am bearing witness to the significance of their lives.
Having my mentor in Joplin the last couple of days was such an instance of bearing witness. Lu Ann, by her presence here, by her questions, by her sharing of insights and by her willingness to journey alongside me, bore witness to and brought a sense of affirmation to me and my ongoing adventure. In the same way, I got to bear witness to Lu Ann, to her gifts of journalism and putting people at ease and to her courage in striking out across the US, visit 30 cities in 30 days….and doing 30 dares. I was honored to have her here and privileged to share in a meaningful first with her. We used video cameras and iPhones, words and blogs and social media to capture that witnessing.
In a similar way, Andra and Roger, from my city’s newspaper The Joplin Globe, were present with us to bear witness to all that we did, both individually in our past adventures and together in Joplin. Andra is a great journalist with a promising future. I suspect there is a book within her waiting to be birthed. Roger was kind and attentive and quietly snapped pictures without making us aware that he was doing that. His photography is another powerful form of bearing witness to the life of another as he captures each moment and freezes it in time.
The culmination of their joint efforts appeared today on the front page of The Globe. I was surprised and then humbled by that placement. The story so beautifully details how Lu Ann inspired me through her transformational year of firsts and continues in the expansion of her life, and how I grew and opened to new experiences and now continue as well on my journey. Roger’s photo that depicts shared laughter between Lu Ann and me was perfect, and could be titled, simply, Joy.
I am grateful for these witnesses to my life these past couple of days, and indeed, to all those who journey with me who affirm my life and let me know that they see me and see what I am doing. I am honored to do the same. Your life will not go unnoticed because I notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I am witnessing it. I see you. I applaud who you are. You are beautifully YOU.
Lu Ann’s blog post about her visit to Joplin
Joplin Globe article about our shared dare