A long time ago in a land far away, (actually St. Paul but if you are a Minnesotan, specifically one who was born and raised in Minneapolis, you get it), I was invited to share Thanksgiving dinner with a handsome and charming couple who to this day are among my closest friends.  We have the kind of relationship that transcends hardship, conflict, distance, and the inevitable obstacles of life. They are true and dear.

We sat in their tiny kitchen and launched into the annual ritual of over-eating together.

None of us were exactly celebrating the origin of the holiday, but more the opportunity to party and drink too much. So, when I raised my glass and suggested that we each say something that we are grateful for, out of nowhere the one to my left exploded into a rage. “How can you say that!”, and “What do I have to be grateful for!”  Shocked doesn’t approach what I felt. This coming from an accomplished Broadway dancer and singer, a person who had traveled the world, my best friend, who I deeply admire and love.

He admitted later that my remark unleashed a simmering frustration and anger.

Ya think?  He had lost purpose in his life.  At 40-something he was no longer young enough to get cast in or reach the physical heights of a show like “A Chorus Line”. He had never finished college, (well actually he enrolled in college, and withdrew in his first semester because of his burgeoning career. The way he tells the story, he had one credit to go before graduation, but really, he had only earned one credit.  Such is the mystery of his memory.  I digress.)  The point is, he felt knotted to the past and fearful for his future.

That was 20 years ago. Since then, he has earned his MFA in Theater, become a professor, and directed 30+ well-received university theater productions.  Today, he continues to teach and direct and was recently invited to helm a show for a prestigious regional theater. At 61, he is achieving his dreams.  

He tells the story of that fateful Thanksgiving Dinner often.  

We laugh about it now. It is part of our history. He says that it changed his life. You see, from that day forward he began his journey as a 40-year-old Black man to finish undergrad, (well first go to under grad see notes above) get a Masters, teach, act, direct, thrive in the world that he grew up in and calls home.

I love this story so much. It covers many of the values that Renny Run stands for: confidence, courage, honesty, humor, and creativity. It also covers the influence we have on people every single day whether we mean to or not. We can fully never know how our actions and especially our words, even innocent observations, or off-hand remarks, may affect people even those who we think we know well.  

Moral of the story:  Don’t say the F word in front of your children if you can help it.

Have a wonderful week whether you celebrate the tradition of Thanksgiving or not.  It’s always a good excuse to eat too much, drink too much and say things, as in this case, you will never regret.

Renny Run. Confidence. Not clothes.
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