Life Isn’t a Dress Rehearsal

Recently I attended a family wedding. The rehearsal — a great time to smooth out potential wrinkles — was beautiful and enjoyed by family and friends who’d traveled a great distance.


You’re familiar with the famous quote:

 “Life isn’t a dress rehearsal.”
         — Rose Tremain

In other words, there are no do-overs; we don’t get a second chance at a first impression.


There won’t be another opportunity to live the same life I’m living now, so I’m giving it everything I’ve got.

What was the last thing you rehearsed for?

© Laurie Buchanan

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60 thoughts on “Life Isn’t a Dress Rehearsal

  1. Laurie, you are a master at close-up photography. In other words, you rehearse the angle before you shoot. What is the last thing I rehearsed for? Well, I often “rehearse” a blog post in MS WORD before I actually copy it into WordPress to publish. And I sometimes rehearse the names of people I may meet before I enter a room so I don’t stand there tongue-tied.

    You have asked a probing question today, Laurie. Worth a tweet on Twitter!

    • Marian – I’m glad you enjoy my photos, I have fun taking them. I probably get one good one for every fifteen I take – rehearsal and all 🙂

      I applaud your idea of rehearsing names before entering a room! I’m going to remember it.

      Knowing that people sometimes forget names, I make a point of shaking hands and saying my name — this usually prompts them to say their name in return.

  2. The thing I last rehearsed for was my wedding, forty-nine years ago, next month. Though I loved my husband-to-be I was scared to death, hoping I was making the right decision. I did!

    I don’t rehearse for anything. I find it just makes me more stressed. If I need to do or say something, it’s easier for me to just jump in and say or do it.

    Nice post, Laurie!

  3. Love the photos Laurie! So lovely!
    Hmm what was the last thing that I rehearsed for? A play. I was stage managing while I was 5 months pregnant with my son. That was the last production I joined with a theater company that I was with for 7 years before I got pregnant. We traveled a lot and with a baby coming, I felt it wasn’t for me anymore. 🙂

    • The Vanilla Housewife – Wow! That must have been exhausting. It’s cool though that you were with a production company for 7 years. Maybe some day when the birdies have left the nest you’ll return 🙂

  4. The pearls in the floral arrangement. Part of the wedding, I presume? What kind of camera do you use to take those close-ups?

    As for my own rehearsal, the last one I did was prior to speaking about my memoir. I do some rehearsing in my head, listening for cadence, eliminating repeated words or awkward structures. I try to rehearse the talk out loud once. But if I’ve done similar ones, I rely on those for my rehearsal.

    One think I try to do is stay in the moment when I speak. The script is there for guidance, not for robotic transmission. 🙂

    • Shirley – Staying in the moment is the best advice you can give everyone. I love what you said: “The script is there for guidance, not for robotic transmission.”

      P.S. I use my iPhone 5S for all my photography; much more convenient than carrying around an extra camera and I’ve always got it with me.

  5. I have a friend who is in a deep depression. To spend time with her I had to make I list of good counseling techniques and phrases and then stick to my guns to get her doing something. Her husband and daughter have to live with her and they are worried all the time. I have to be totally focused as she can drop back in an instant.

    My energy healing person could not make enough money to support herself and killed herself in February. It is very hard to survive the brutal attacks by the ultra conservatives and the brutal lies – attacks. When your streams of income are cut off And you are alone. But the desire to isolate is sudden and quick.

    No dress rehearsals. Now an amazing healer is gone. And a civil rights lawyer is feeling worthless.

  6. Such lovely photos, Laurie. Thank you for sharing them.
    It is important to embrace life. But it is also important to give yourself permission to embrace it in your way at your own tempo. Like my yoga instruction often reminds me, don’t worry about what your neighbour is doing. Listen to what your body needs.

    • Leanne – yes, Yes, YES to “Give yourself permission to embrace it in your way at your own tempo.”

      A great affirmation: I have permission to embrace life in my own way, at my own speed.

  7. Beautiful and intimate photos Laurie, and lovely idea for a post. My last rehearsal was sadly enough for a eulogy a very close friend friend asked me to deliver a year ago in church for his mother after the traditional mass. But not to dwell on sadness, especially for an ebullient post like this, I did speak at another friend’s wedding and and in preparation for site videos on films and books. In any event, spring is here to stay!

    • Sam – I can well imagine rehearsing prior to delivering a eulogy, when all eyes and every ear is tuned with precision on the speaker. Same for a wedding situation; both of which are major life events.

      Spring has my Standing Ovation!

  8. There is something so uplifting about close up photography of beautiful flowers…the colour of that buttonhole is just amazing! How can you not feel happy and energised when surrounded by colour and vibrancy and scent like that…not to mention the joy of another union between two people who love each other? Must have been a lovely weekend!

    • Ali – It was, indeed, a wonderful weekend! I’d love to take all of the credit for the photos, but I have to give quite a bit to my iPhone 5S; it’s what I use to take all of my photographs — including the closeups.

      • You took them on an iphone?!! Wow…I need to practice more! I have a samsung S4 which has a good camera on it, but I’m not making the most of it…no patience, I think! And there’s me thinking you were a professional with a big camera and even bigger lense hehe! Just shows what you can do if you try…and have the eye.

      • Ali – Give your Samsung S4 a serious whirl. You’re right, patience is the key. I probably take one good shot in ten and then simply delete what I don’t like 🙂

  9. The flowers are beautiful I hope all goes well with the wedding .

    As soon as I read today’s post I knew I had to tell you about my poetry reading . I know you only know me from ‘Tuesday With Laurie ‘ but believe me I am the shyest person ever, and yet I am proud to say, I read my own poetry to a group of about forty people two weeks ago . Rehearse ??? I must have read my poem a thousand times in the mirror , in the car , to my family , in the bath… until it felt right . There were about ten of us reading and I was last but one and I didn’t shake once .Everyone was wonderful they all clapped and clapped and I felt a celebrity …it was so good

    • Cherry – I’m so doggon proud of you I can’t see straight! Way to rock a poetry reading. I sure hope somebody captured that on video for you so you can refer to it any time you need a boost! 🙂

  10. Scratching my head – can’t think of anything I’ve rehearsed for in recent years – perhaps for a concert when I was in the middle school chorus. Or that one piano recital when I was about the same age.

    I love your pictures of the bright and cheery wedding flowers – simply beautiful!

    • Barbara – I think it would be a good feeling to have all rehearsals in the rearview mirror. Yesterday we took the Idaho Driver’s Exam and “rehearsed” for days prior to the real deal. Thankfully, we both passed.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the flower photographs, thank you for letting me know 🙂

  11. Laurie, let me compliment you on those photos! Exquisite! I can’t actually bring to mind any rehearsals of late, I tend to take my chances and blunder on through. Wait! Come to think of it, I suppose mental rehearsals count, like, ” I’ll just walk in and say……”. Mostly I get through on Luck and Chutzpah.

  12. Hi Laurie

    A couple of years ago I played a bit part in a stage performance, as a policeman dragging someone off stage. Rehearsed that a couple of times prior to show time.
    Most other stuff I just wing it.

    And the more we do anything the better we get at it – including writing – such as this!

  13. “All of life is a stage and we are merely actors upon it.” To improperly quote Willie Shakespeare !

    I am rehearsing for a funeral at this time! The stage is being set, the players defining their roles…

  14. Rehearsed for…gosh, Laurie, I don’t know. Mostly I just give it my best, but will contemplate this today, because there are surely things I’ve rehearsed for, as well. Maybe teaching Spanish to the little kids last fall. That required some rehearsing! Or at least mental adjustments. Heading to the big city of Marquette for an overnight today. Our co-op is moving to a bigger building and I CAN’T WAIT! It’s like Whole Foods coming to the U.P.!

    • Kathy – “Mental adjustments” is a great example! Have a blast in Marquette (I’ll look forward to seeing photographs on your blog). CONGRATULATIONS on your co-op’s expansion — that’s fantastic for everyone 🙂

  15. Friday, before presenting Matthew’s “heart” story to a crowd of over 600 students and faculty at DePaul University for their annual fund raising event for Lurie Children’s Hospital. The event ended up raising over $214,000! Well worth my rehearsal, along with all the other people who rehearsed for this great event.

  16. Hi, Laurie — I had to yell at the cat the other day so I rehearsed looking serious. I think I managed to look constipated, but I yelled anyway.

    I suspect that life is getting us ready for something really big . . . since we don’t take anything with us except our souls, it could be an undressed rehearsal.

  17. I do love the quote, Laurie, and it’s funny how it can be bantered around but not necessarily adopted. I appreciate what you’ve shared and it’s a wonderful challenge. I’m not sure how I’d answer your question. I am sure I “hedge my bets” many times and don’t go as “all in” as I would if I wanted to be certain I was fully living and not rehearsing. I’m interested in giving this some more thought. Lovely photos!

  18. Without wanting to make light of the bigger question, I think every time I write a blog post, it is a sort of rehearsal. In fact, my most recent post is one that actually resembles very little of the original content, in that each time I re-wrote the post, I cut away or added something that made each “rehearsal” an opportunity to improve on the end result. Or at least, that was the intention. Life is not a rehearsal, but sometimes, it seems, practicing can help us make progress.

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