Norman Kehling shouldn’t be alive today, but the wiry survivor is very much alive and has become a source of inspiration for many others. And this past weekend, For The Next Guy, his against-the-odds recovery story came to life at the Strand Theatre in Rockland, Maine.

Norman Kehllng, photo by Portland Press Herald

Yesterday, I posted about Norman and about the play on Facebook. The day before, I’d posted there about the perfect autumn day I’d experienced here in mid-coast Maine, sharing pics of the schooner-dotted sparkling ocean viewed from Beech Hill. Fall colors everywhere. A new FB Friend asked where I was vacationing. This is home. How absurdly blessed are we to live in such a place? But life is hard in beautiful places too. We can give up on ourselves and on those we love. Norman’s Dickensian saga demands that we stop and consider unpleasant realities–but also the reasons that miracles like Norman’s survival can occur.

David Troup as Norman

Today is Canada’s Thanksgiving Day, and I find myself grateful for the abundant blessings of my life. Taking in the fall colors Saturday then promptly being reminded Sunday of the possibility of redemption dope-slapped me into gratitude mode.

Natural beauty deserves our attention and our applause. But regardless of how beautiful a place may be, each day people find themselves in the midst of personal hell.

Anchors and supports matter in life, and Norman’s story puts such things into view. Whether he knew it or not at the time, he experienced certain turning points in his life, and finally responded to one in a way that led to more life-altering decisions and actions. Why then? Why not before, or later, or never? We don’t always meet the moment, do we? Especially when we are in the grip of addiction. The question of how remains with us. Grace? Luck? Guts?

Q&A with David Troup, Norman Kehling, and Larraine Brown

The theatrical production also came as a result of people reaching a turning point. Deciding to write this story, to play the role, to be part of the production team. Bravo to brilliant actor David Troup. Brava to insightful and wise writer/director Larraine Brown. Thank you also to all who blessed this project with their talent and hard work. Watch this clip about Norman and about the production.

It all came together this weekend in a glorious way. All that work added up to more than a gripping slice of life portrayal. It became art. Art with muscle. May many learn and grow because of the work of all those involved.

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