Yo Joan! What starts in the balcony eventually comes down to earth

In a land far, far away from the pandemic, I was at a Rita Coolidge concert. During her introduction to a personal song about her grandma, someone in the back far reaches of the highest balcony let out a loud, slow YAWN.

Without skipping a beat, Rita said, “Sorry if I’m keeping you up.”

The audience laughed. Some miffed fans turned and squinted with beady eyes toward that dark balcony.

Rita, pro that she is, just carried on with her intro. But before she started singing again, she glanced up high in the direction of that yawner and with a soft touch of humility said, “Try to stay up. You might get something out of it.”

Ripples of laughter from the crowd as we relaxed into our seats and proceeded to stay awake.

Now, if this were a different time and she was a different person, she could have cut this yawner down a peg or two – the way seasoned comics treat hecklers – for being so incredibly rude.

However, her response addressed the inappropriateness without belittling the other person. There was a humble kindness to it. She even went on to magnificently sing a moving grandma song.

Little did Rita know the yawner up yonder was severely disabled. Through the glare of bright lights, she couldn’t see the group of fans sitting way up in the darkened nosebleed seats. Many of them couldn’t control their movements.

And one, for a moment, couldn’t control his voice.

After the show, I was in the elevator with that big yawner, ever grateful for Rita’s talent. We hummed her sweet songs together, making them ours as we headed the wheelchairs out of the theatre and into the night – a night she helped us make it through.

Perhaps if more backstories were known, compassions would increase. And if our personal trials were more transparent to others, those strange blunders of ours would be easily forgiven. Do you think?

But we can’t always see the dark balconies from the stages of our lives. Nor can we know the extensive history of every experience or person we encounter. Heck, it can take a lifetime or two just to figure out our own history.

Compassion, humility, kindness – there’s something to be said for the practice of these traits. As we journey into 2022, I’m sure we’ll find an abundance of opportunities to practice these sterling qualities toward others and also to ourselves.

It’s mighty good to know practice makes perfect.

Happy New Year!

Joan Budilovsky can be reached at Her website is