Courtney S. Barr

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Forget Regrets or Life is Yours to Miss...

The 8 words that title this entry are more than just a line from Jonathan Larson's RENT. They are 8 words that roll through my mind whenever someone asks me do I have any regrets in my life so far. These 8 words just hit their 10 year anniversary mark for me on January 10th. 10 years ago on January 12 I learned all the words to RENT and it has made such a difference in my life. 10 days ago those 8 words rolled through my mind like a steamroller.

10 years ago I moved to Orlando, did an animation internship with Disney, met some amazing people and discovered those 8 little words.

I have always been a happy person, but I didn't truly become the sunshine person that I am until that year. It was my first time to truly experience a world completely different than the one I grew up in. I was 19 and it was time to decide: look at life half full or half empty. I was surrounded by people from bigger cities, who had as much & MORE talent than I did, and people who thought southerners really are the rednecks in movies. I didn't help that stereotype when on my first night I had to tell them what we did in my hometown for fun...

Armadillo hunting,
Going to the Gravel Pit (a real gravel pit not a night club),
The Chimney (again, a real busted old chimney not a night club),
Riding pigs in formal wear (yes not a metaphor - after prom some of us were bored),
Getting stuck (purposely driving your vehicle through deep mud in hopes you get stuck so it is an adventure),
Having a party on the river with ALL (boys & girls) your classmates where everyone spends the night yet the guys need to be gone by 6 so that parents don't know)
"Wars" with mustard, ketchup, eggs, sardines, flour, cornmeal (yeah we weren't cooking just throwing it at each the middle of town...during Homecoming Week)

Needless to say my roommates were beyond awe that when it came to what I considered exciting, those things listed above were my main list. They thought my southern accent was adorable, my smile infectious and that my 'innocence' was their challenge. Yep. They took me to every kind of club, all kinds of events, restaurants, shopping centers, exhibits and parties. They decided that this time spent learning the ins & outs of animation should be peppered with self & world exploration.

So I went to all these crazy places, but as I crossed the threshold of a club and my eyes adjusted to the myriad of lights and music I would smile. Not because I was in awe of this different place but because no matter what - I was still me even in the new surrounding and every time my head hit the pillow. All the clubs, all the events, all the exhibits never could take away the smile, the laugh, the beliefs that my parents instilled in me. Yes, some shocked me, some made me question decisions humans make in entertainment, some made me laugh so loudly I thought I would never be able to laugh again, some made me cry, some made me see my roommates as more than just roommates, some made me miss home while others made me appreciate the intricacies that are hidden in smaller communities.

I was there to decide if animation was the path I wanted to take.
I was there to meet new people.
I was there to experience something new.
I didn't realize then that I was there to meet me.

Jonathan Larson's RENT is beloved by one of my closest friends from that year. He knew every word and had seen it over 30 times at the Nederlander Theater in New York. We met on January 10 - we discovered our kindred spirits on January 11 and on the 12 we listened to songs from that Broadway hit while driving down I-4. We talked about how different our lives were up to this point. We discussed movies, television, music, Disney, dreams, nightmares - whatever we wanted. But most importantly we discussed regrets. It was he who taught me the words to RENT but it was the 8 words above that introduced me to the woman I am today.

I don't believe in regrets. I didn't choose to stay in Orlando or transfer to Burbank. The time spent with the animators, the work spent on a small cluster of trees in a sericel was worth every second. I still get misty when I watch a certain Disney, knowing I colored a couple trees for its designers. But I don't regret being where I am. I don't regret that my first visit to Burbank was last week.

I stood outside the Disney Animation Studio and felt the oddest sensation.

No sadness, just excitement. I looked at the Sorcerer's Hat, all blue with its white stars and the large letters of ANIMATION and I smiled. I took a picture, I spoke to the guard and I turned to walk away. The music and lyrics of No Day But Today filtered through my mind and I could hear:
There's only us
There's only this
Forget regret - - or life is yours to miss
No other road
No other way
No day but today.

I can't control
My destiny
I trust my soul
My only hope
is just to be.

As appropriate in Hollywood the music played in my mind as I walked away. Smiling I climbed into the rental car, giggled as I showed my husband the pictures and then navigated our way to the Warner Bros lot.

I still sketch when the mood strikes me or all day long while at work in the corners of my agenda, on napkins in restaurants or when I am surrounded by my nieces & nephews and they request something. I watch animated films with excitement for its creators and a bit of understanding for its artistic design teams. Tonight I watched the Golden Globes & stood clapping for UP. My work in computer animation was shortlived but I fought with the many programs enough to truly appreciate UP's beauty. I am excited to understand the workings of great animation from the best there is.

So ten years ago I met me. This Southern Princess (who knew she was royalty at a young age) who thought she had been sheltered when really she had been prepared. My parents had not hidden the world from me due to geography in fact they had shown me what it meant to be someone who could see the world from all angles and appreciate every single thing it has to offer: the good & the bad.

Today I am a writer who enjoys sketching, who loves to freehand when the itch occurs, who paints when commissioned, who laughs loudly at animated shorts, who enjoys time spent on the couch with my dog Peanut, blogging about life & its many idiosyncracies, who still thinks her husband is the funniest man alive, who loves her parents with wild abandon, who treasures life in the country, who enjoys traveling to expansive cities, who collects vintage books, who reads as though her life depends on it, who remembers every word to a musical that she had never heard of but now cannot imagine being without, who cries at commercials, who enjoys cooking, who appreciates friendships, and who acknowledges that life without obstacles is no life at all.

The path we take is the path meant to be traveled, enjoy the journey because the destination is not always the real reason we stepped out the door.

Forget Regrets or Life if Yours to Miss... No Day But Today.
click this link to listen to this song:
No Day But Today
(freehand sketching on a lazy Sunday afternoon)

Oh I like feet & hands btw, no idea why...


  1. Rent is the love of my life. I have seen it live three times and just wrote a 10 page paper on it for my film class. It makes me smile when I see other people who love it too.

    I enjoyed this post. I admire you for being able to find out who are. Your sketches are great too!

  2. Love you! I have wanted to see Rent.. Now I know I must.

  3. AAh that song sometimes makes me cry its sooooo good! I havent watched Rent in awhile but its amazing and I love the little snippets you shared of your life and how you found yourself and who you are today. I love it! have a thing for hands and feet...I do mostly eyes and lips...what does that say about me?

  4. "who thought she had been sheltered when really she had been prepared"

    The best line in the whole thing, good lady. A whole world of meaning in such a short phrase. Beautiful.

  5. Simply beautiful, my dear. Well said. What a rich, remarkable life you've led thus far. And truly, an inspiration, especially for those of us who struggle with self-discovery--or most especially, for those of us who struggle to remain who we are when the circumstances change.

  6. Steph - Rent is special. So so special. It deals with so many things & does so without being pretentious. I love it.
    Tracy - it is wonderful! Keep an open mind when you click play and just sit back & soak it all in.
    Frankie-thanks. that song is wonderful, I tear up every time I hear One Song-Glory from Rent. Using this blog for writing, sharing, living, it is the only way I can do it. Oh & the feet/hands thing means (per reading I once had) I enjoy creation & movement. As for eyes and lips...hmmm...might have to look that one up ;o) Eyes are the windows to the soul & the lips are the secret to the heart so....
    Simon- thank you. There is much truth in that statement.
    Carol - it has been remarkable! I can honestly say that I love my life. It can be trying, difficult but oh so fun! ;o) Glad to be here. lol

  7. Aww, what a great post. I could just picture you at the sorcerer's hat, with a million thoughts and feelings running through you.

    As my best friend and I constantly remind each other "Everything is and will be exactly what it needs to be."

    Obviously, you know that lesson too. :)

  8. Great post! I think we have a very similar adolesence! Rent is on my short list. How'd your contest go? Every time I sat down to enter it I got called away again. Maybe next time...

  9. I probably watch rent once a month....if not it...

  10. Btw you left off all of your lovely scars on your feet... WHY?? They are the signs that show you the map of your life!! (ok corney I know) Well said my dear!!


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