Three Beautiful Things

Charles Johnson Tuthill

Last Week there was a Memorial for my friend CHARLES.
He was a fairly renowned Acting Teacher.
And I Loved Him!

Who could Not Love CHARLES!
There was Nothing not to Love!

It was a Simple and Heartfelt Memorial at an Acting Studio where he taught.
So Many Current and Former Students.
A few presentations, after which anyone who had something to say was invited to come forward.
After several students spoke, I got up,
“So many of you are talking about CHARLES as a Teacher,” I began. “But I knew CHARLES as a Student.”
Laughter from the crowd.
I remembered when teachers died during my College Years, and in the decade that followed. We only knew them as Teachers and we had enshrined them now that way for eternity. There was no way we could have imagined them Students like us
Or as Cool as Us
Or as Cutting edge as we were with our technology — Back then we, as students, all carried these electronic beepers for our answering machines,
so when we went to a payphone (many of which were still dial phones),
we could place the beeper to the mouth piece and press for a tone which would make the cassette tapes in our answering machine recorders rewind to the exact spot to which we needed to listen,
and we could press it again at the end to rewind the tape so that we could record over those messages, thereby erasing them.
Most teachers were not So Cool as to have those!
(Well, we were in the theater, so some of them did.)
But for the most part, teachers — as all adults — belonged to a different World.

And here I was, from the OtherWorld of CHARLES, speaking to the Cool Techno-Edge Students of this decade who no doubt, at the current rate of hi-tech development, will be rendered way more obsolete in their own LifeTimes than I am in mine.

I told them my favorite story about CHARLES, when we were on the front lines of the AIDS Crisis back in the 1980’s. Our ClassMate, JOHN ROBINSON, one of the first AIDS Cases in the US, had died and we were figuring out what to do.
JOHN was Taoist, so I went to the Yellow Pages
(I explained what the Yellow Pages were — A Large Book you kept in your house so you could find out how to contact places)
and looked up “Taoist Temples.”
I called one and the Cheerful Voice on the other end of the phone told me, “Taoist like Buddhist — when someone die, it doesn’t matter!”
I called CHARLES back and I asked him what he thought about taking up a collection for JOHN’s parents’ Church. (Being raised Italian-American, this seemed a logical tribute!)
“He would not have wanted that!” CHARLES stated, assuring me of what I, deep inside, already knew.
Then we came up with the idea of taking up a collection to support a brand new organization, GAY MEN’s HEALTH CRISIS (GMHC), which was working to combat AIDS.
And we did it.
It was fascinating to see Students’ eyes opening to the idea that this very respected Teacher was once a Young UpStart like themselves — kind of the way the experience of LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA’s Musical, HAMILTON, upends our conceptions about the Founding Fathers.
It’s always interesting to think about what the People you know as adults were like when we were Younger
Newer to the World
Forming our Ideas
Full of Beans
Obsessed with the Newest Technologies
Young UpStarts
Beginnning…

Before we became so Worldly and Wise,
Before we became the Giants that our Toddlers looked up to, as Four Times their physical Size,
Before we acquired the Hard-Won knowledge that we So Desperately wish to share with you to keep you from making the same mistakes we made — just as the Generation before us tried to do with us!
HA!
As you will discover for yourself,
It never works,
For Life is an Adventure in Discovery!

One of the Students who spoke shared about what CHARLES had taught her.
“He told me, ‘Each Day, find Three Beautiful Things!’ and he would ask me to email him with what they were, and if he didn’t hear from me, he would email me and ask what were my Three Beautiful Things that I saw that day. I still do that, and I will continue to do that.”

And sometimes the Wisdom comes in a form that transcends the Space between Generations… Sometimes it is recognized as Universal Truth!

And So, I shall add this to the many Gifts which my RelationShip with CHARLES gives to me.
Yes, even after the physical experience which we refer to as Death comes, a relationship continues on.

The afternoon CHARLES died, quite suddenly and unexpectedly — he was found lying peacefully in his bed and could not be revived — I was at an Author’s Launch Party for a Wonderful Friend!
She held out a pile of cards she had made herself with varying Quotes from Literature, asking each of us to take one as a party favor of sorts.
It would have been just slightly after the time that CHARLES passed (though no one knew it at that point), when the following quote made it’s way into my hand:

I didn’t connect this until a day or two later, after receiving the news.
The perfection of Time
And how things happen in a kind of Grand Design that we so often miss.

And now, each day, I bring Consciousness to finding three Beautiful Things.
Here are a few random Beautiful Things I have noticed, although so often it is in Kindness or a Feeling Expressed or something which cannot be captured in a
picture…

This Planter along Tenth Avenue…Beautiful!

 

This Flower…Beautiful!

 

This Imperfect Leaf…Beautiful!

 

Broadway… Holds a Special Place in My Heart, especially since I knew the men for whom two of those theaters are named!…Beautiful!

 

The Pride Windows at MACY*s! …Beautiful! When I was growing up, such a thing would not have existed.

 

This Beautiful Eagle Sculpture overlooking a parapet at Grand Central Station…Beautiful!

 

These FlowerBeds along 34th Street…Beautiful!

 

Bread…Beautiful!

 

Garlic…Beautiful!

 

MOM, right after her appointment at the Beauty Parlor…Beautiful!

 

This Robin’s Egg…Beautiful!

 

These Flowers along the Road at Night…Beautiful!

 

This Peace Lily Flowering in My Home…Beautiful!

 

This One!…Beautiful!

 

These Two!…Beautiful!

 

This Bush…Beautiful!

 

The Iron Work on this Bench…Beautiful!

 

That Sky!…Beautiful!

 

MOM holding my Hand…Beautiful!

 

This Perfect Leaf…Beautiful!

 

The scent from this diffuser that welcomes me home every day in my entry HallWay…Beautiful! (And the SARK Cards and WAYNE DYER Cards on either side of it)

My Friend, VIVIAN, at the MARY MANNING WALSH HOME. She made that beaded necklace she’s wearing and it matches her outfit, perfectly!…Beautiful!

Are there perhaps Three Beautiful Things which you might notice Today?

 

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4 Comments

  1. Ah, so much that is beautiful in this piece – and in the life you celebrate. Charles is an inspiration. So are you.

    Reply
  2. Damon Bishop

     /  June 17, 2017

    I loved the quote card and the “coincidence” of that moment! Wow!

    Reply

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