Maybe We Could All Use a 6-Foot White Rabbit
“Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be’ – she always called me Elwood – ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.” – Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey
Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing a performance of Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Harvey. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Harvey is a 1944 play by Mary Chase that centers around a man named Elwood P. Dowd and his imaginary (or not) friend, a 6 foot 3-1/2 tall rabbit named Harvey. The play was later adapted into a film starring Jimmy Stewart.
I wanted to see this play mainly because it stars Jim Parsons of television’s The Big Bang Theory. Mr. Parsons is one of my favorite actors and I could dedicate an entire post to how much his work inspires me as a performer, but that’s not really what I want to talk about at this particular moment. The production was well done and delightful in many ways, but what sticks with me most (at least today anyway) is not so much the response I had to it as an actress, but instead the response I had to it as a human being. I was moved almost to tears. Not in a bad way…it certainly isn’t a sad story by any means.
What really tugged at me was the sincerity of Elwood P. Dowd. The character doesn’t have an ungenuine bone in his body. He is always polite, always happy to meet new people and connect with them, really connect with them and hear their stories. He always chooses to see the good in others, even as his own sister is trying to have him committed and take control of the family assets. He’s always happy exactly where he is, doing exactly what he’s doing.
How many of us are like that nowadays? When did we become so jaded and disconnected? Sure, life isn’t always sunshine and roses, and at times it is necessary to keep our guards up, because there are people out there who don’t always have our best interests at heart. Still, what if we all made more of an effort to choose positive over negative? What if we connected with other people a little bit more? I’m talking about genuine connection and real conversation, not email, text, or (as much I do enjoy them) Facebook & Twitter. What if, instead of complaining about the weather, crying about our favorite sports team losing, or bitching because our favorite rock band isn’t doing exactly what we think they should be doing…what if we all tried to enjoy the things we do have going for us and looked for ways to be happy in the present moment? I’m not advocating that we all become complete Pollyannas, just wondering what it might be like if we all made an effort to be a little more pleasant. Just a little.
What a world it could be if we were all just a little bit more like Elwood P. Dowd!