I grew up in the 1970’s and 80’s when concerts were wild and cheap. My first concert was the Doobie Brothers – Michael McDonald – swoon! For my 16th birthday my sister Sydney and her husband Tom took me and a friend to see KC and Sunshine Band in concert at Six Flags. It was a great trip, we mooned truckers on the highway, rode every ride and sang like no tomorrow at the concert.
In the glory days of concerts there were no seats. The floor was open for all of us to cram in and fight to get up front, only the old creepy people sat up in the seats. Front row seats were a big arena thing where seats were all around the stage and you were expected to stay in or at least near your seat. Front row seats were highly coveted and often a pair was given away in a highly sought after radio contest.
But sometimes front row seats are not the best seats. In some venue’s front row seats restrict your view and you miss things. In the movie theater front row seats are the last to fill because they are usually just too close. Sometimes front row seats break your neck because you strain to see and hold that position the entire show. When I bought tickets to a comedy play at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts when we were in DC, there was one seat front and center, but I chose another, because I highly suspected people in the audience would be asked to participate. I was not wrong! My seat was safely in the middle where I could enjoy the taunting of other patrons.
So where is the best seat? It’s not a one size fits all answer. Nosebleed seats can be great when you scraped together every penny to get to experience something you love. Sometimes its great just to be there! Nosebleed seats are the worst if you have a bad knee, a bad hip or bad back and have to climb all those stairs or if you have a fear of heights. I’ve never had 50 yard line seats, but hear they are great. My sister likes end zone seats at Cowboy’s games. I’ve had crummy seats and great binoculars. I’ve had crummy seats and great company. I’ve also had great seats with grouchy people that kind of ruined it.
It also matters whose is in the rows behind you when you have front row seats. A rowdy obnoxious crowd behind you can ruin front row seats propelling you closer to the action to try to see the show. Fans behind you can throw flowers or objects that make you fear for your life. Conversely a crowd behind you really into the show can suck you into the energy and take the show to new levels. Great company can make it all, good and bad, worth it. It all really comes down to perspective.
Life often pushes us to the front row of hard things. My dear friend has front row seats to her twenty-three year old daughter’s fight for life through a liver transplant. Another is living with the diagnosis of a spouse with Alzheimers. Another an only child burying their remaining parent. These are not good seats! We all face difficult trials, but having front row seats to life’s hardest moments is beyond tough. I’ve seen friends have front row seats as their children struggle with suicide and depression. I had a front row seat when they were uselessly doing CPR on my dead husband. I had front row seats with a smart kid that just could not read. I often have front row seats to the hard times of others. Front row seats can really really SUCK! And honestly for many of life’s trials there is not a good seat in the house.
So if I get to pick a seat, it will be next to someone who will help make it the best experience possible. Someone who will point me to Jesus, help me find the humor in the situation and the good in others. Someone who will be filled with hope and encouragement. Someone who will lament the negative and help me move on. These days, if I get to pick a seat, (especially at in service!!) it’s probably going to be in the back with the fun people! When I am assigned a seat, I hope that I will be a good seat companion and part of a great audience and let the show take me it where it leads and that is a better place!