Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”
— Wicked, For Good
So, I think it’s about time I talk about this quote — this song — a little bit. I’ve held off on it for a while, quite frankly because it’s just too easy. It’s my book in a nutshell, which is why the first time I heard it, sitting in a Chicago theatre watching the musical “Wicked” five years ago, it immediately brought tears to my eyes.
Music has a way of touching us like nothing else can, even more so when the lyrics strike a particular chord (no pun intended). Yet what made this song most touching to me was the story leading up to it. Two young girls, so different, who came into each other’s lives unexpectedly, and taught one another lessons without intending to. The hero? There really isn’t one. The villain? That’s not necessarily clear either. You sympathize with both sides, you understand both sides. Both the good and the bad inspire learning.
That’s the thing about people who change you. You don’t always get to choose the way they do, and the lessons can disguise themselves in some very challenging, even heartbreaking situations. They can leave you wondering if it was worth it. Couldn’t there be an easier way?
I still wonder.
As recently as last Saturday, a chance encounter with the person who once moved me more than any other left me wondering why it all had to work out the way it did. What could I have done differently? If I had done things differently, would it have made it better? Would we still have grown apart naturally?
Don’t dwell on the past, right? No, I don’t. In fact, while my memoir may seem to be about looking back, it’s really about moving forward, putting all of that energy I once spent trying to help someone else, into trying to help a whole lot of other people — using my experience to inspire others. But the questions will stay with me, especially as more and more people read this story, a few who have already asked me their own questions: “Do you still talk to Maya? What do you think of her now?”
Once more, I go back to the song.
“I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn and we are led to those who help us most to grow; if we let them, and we help them in return. Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true, but I know I’m who I am today because I knew you.”
Full song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzrGFQysfYU
Who has changed you “for good?” How?