Thank you, Mr. Saroyan

Playwright William Saroyan wrote an inspiring introduction to his 1939 play The Time of Your Life. The single paragraph begins with, “In the time of your life, live … ” Those opening words have stayed with me since my early 20’s when I first read the play. With them, I find a quick dose of encouragement or adrenalin. It’s the best pep talk I know.
Those seven words can mean different things to different people. First might be called the Live It Up approach. Party hearty. Have the best. Live large. Have a blast. Be carefree, unburdened by anything but the desire to have a good time. College days come to mind.
Another is The Bucket List approach. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman starred in the film by the same name. The characters they played were older and in poor health. They wanted to have unique experiences in life while there was still time, to make the most of their remaining moments. The deeper message was “Don’t Wait.”
These experiences, for some, seem to be quite epic in scope. I have friends who are writing their Bucket Lists or working on doing the things already on their Bucket Lists. One friend just completed a rim to rim hike of 26 miles through the Grand Canyon. Another is methodically traveling to each continent. Antarctica is left.
“In the time of your life, live” also reminds me of the Latin phrase Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Everyday. Make the most of every opportunity.
Then there’s “Be yourself.” Live life as you want. Not to someone else’s desires for you or to please another person. Live life honestly by being true to yourself.
And finally, there’s the idea to be “in the moment.” To be totally present so you experience “the now.” You’re not worrying about the future or reliving the past. When you’re with friends, you’re with them … listening to them, seeing them, enjoying them. Whatever you’re doing, you experience it fully. You don’t allow anything else to tug at your mind.
Saroyan’s introductory paragraph ends with “In the time of your life, live – so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.” I’m trying to stay “fully in the moment,” to experience the delight and mystery of it …
Saroyan, in a quote not from the introduction or the play, expands the idea specifically to writers:

“The most solid advice for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deepy, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.” 

For the full introduction at the beginning of the play and the play itself …

In 1940, the play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award.

Thank you, Mr. Saroyan, for the inspiration.

Playwright William Saroyan

Playwright William Saroyan

About cmwriter

I'm a writer ... of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. I blog about writing, short stories, poetry, books, plays, and thoughts on life. Love reading and travel and being with friends!
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1 Response to Thank you, Mr. Saroyan

  1. Susan Grieshober says:

    Hi Aunt Carol, Thank you for a great reminder. Loved it! We are in Prescott. Randy is trying to “work from home” up here for the first time. So far going well for someone who has a very short attention span :-). A great day up here – a bit of snow on the ground and snow on the mountains. Hoping to get the two bathrooms painted this weekend. Would like to bring Mom out for a spring visit. What does your calendar look like? Love, Sue

    Sent from my iPad

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