Ringing the Bell

Everyone wishes that they had a second chance, a chance to do it over and say the right things, to make that good first impression, to take back those words we wish we hadn’t uttered, to spend more time, do a better job. We want a second chance at living.

“Sure Thing”, a play by David Ives, takes the boy meets girl for the first time theme, and explores their first dialogue in several ways, each time ending with a ringing of a bell, giving the couple a chance to try it all again until, in the end, they are closer to finding that perfect dialogue. The ringing of the bell symbolizes a fresh start and that second chance we all wish we had at one time or another.

The opening lines of the play reveal a common scenario that we’ve probably all faced.

“Betty, reading at the table. An empty chair opposite her. Bill enters.

Bill: Excuse me. Is this chair taken?

Betty: Excuse me?

Bill: Is this taken?

Betty: Yes it is.

Bill: Oh, sorry.

Betty: Sure thing.”

And the chance at a first impression is forever gone. If Bill is anything like me, he walked away from that scene replaying it over and over in his mind, wondering just what he could have done or said differently to bring about a more favorable outcome. Then, we read, “A bell rings softly.” It’s Bill’s second chance, the one we never get, and he is able to start over to bring about a better response.

In the play, Bill and Betty are given multiple chances to receive a do-over until they get it right and can both scream, “Waiter!” at the same time. They reached their goal, made the right impression and are left smiling, ready to move forward.

It’s true that some first impressions are lost forever, but it’s not true that we never get a second chance. Every ending is a ringing of the bell, a chance to start over and get it right, not just in romantic relationships, but in all areas of life. Each time you start a new job is a ringing of the bell, a chance to do a better job, work harder, make a better impression. Each friendship is a chance to be a better friend. Each project is a chance to make a better project. For me as a writer, each novel is a ringing of the bell, a chance to improve my craft and storytelling, a chance to fix my weak spots and get it right.

Every ending is a ringing of the bell, a chance to take what we’ve learned, improve upon it, and strive for a better, more positive response. We may lose some first chances forever, but that does not mean we will never have a second chance or a third or even a fourth. We can gain as many second chances as we take the opportunity to pursue and after we have learned what went wrong prior. The bell rings more often than we think. It is up to us to make the most of those chances and not squander them by following the same path of mistakes we created before.

Heed the ringing of the bell. Strive to do better, to be better. Only you can make the most of those second chances.

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Until next time, keep chasing your fantasies!

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