My high school drama teacher and director once said to me during notes of a play we were doing, “Karen, you need to stop being afraid of being ugly.” At the time, I took it to mean I was too vain–which I knew to be true. As I got older I heard his words resonate with far more meaning. It is not a fear of being physically ugly that holds us back on stage and in life, but fear of being emotionally ugly. To greet what ever makes you vulnerable, opens you up to the human-ness of life and allows you to share yourself and tolerate it in others. However “ugly” it may be. So often I would think of him and wonder how he was doing. I would reflect on how much he meant to me. How he gave so much of his time to me and shared the kind of criticism that never wounded, only inspired. Four years ago, after a 33 year absence, I found a way to reach out to him. For a couple of years, when he was in Florida or I was in NYC we met for coffee. He had intimated that he had a life altering diagnosis that would result in dementia but he was not in danger yet. Then two years ago, he didn’t answer my texts, or emails. I put it out of my head-busy with life. I tried to reach out again a few months ago. Nothing. I feared he was gone to me. Finally, I realized that putting it off trying to reach him was the single worst thing I could do- for him and for me. I wrote his wife a letter, the old fashioned kind with a stamp, expressing my love and concern for them both. Within in days, she emailed me and let me know which phone numbers to call to reach him. He isn’t doing well. But he is still doing. I can’t let a person whose wisdom still lives in my head, and who also lives in my heart go. Be ugly, take risks find a way.