Thornton Wilders play, Our Town, was written about events that occurred in the very early years of the 20th century in a small town called Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. The main character of the story is named Emily. The story deals with the preciousness of time and the gift of life, the meaning of which we often miss.

Emily dies, and in a conversation she has with the saints departed, she asks to go back to Grover’s Corners for one day. She chooses her twelfth birthday.

She goes back and watches what happens in the kitchen, the living room, the dining room, and outside the house. She notices that people, even the people in her immediate family, don’t seem to notice one another. They go about their busy lives preoccupied. She finally cries out, as if her mother might hear her, “Oh, Mama, Mama, just look at me, look at me for a minute, as though you really see me, just for a moment now, while we’re all together. Mama, let’s be happy. Let’s look at one another and really see each other.” But their life goes on, preoccupied and fleeting.

Emily turns to the stage manager, the character off to the side, who plays a very important role, and she says:

“Life goes so fast. We don’t even have time to look at one another. I didn’t realise this while I was living. We never noticed.”

At the end, almost broken-hearted, she asks to be taken back to heaven. As she’s just about to leave, she looks back, over her shoulder, and she says:

“Goodbye world, goodbye Grover’s Corners, good-bye Mama and Papa, goodbye taste of coffee, goodbye new ironed dresses goodbye clocks ticking and hot baths, goodbye sleeping and waking. Oh life, oh life, you’re too wonderful. Why don’t we realise?”

She then turns to the stage manager and says:

“Does anybody do it? Does anybody really notice?”

The stage manager answers:

Some do… Poets, saints, artists, but very few.”


Many go through life stuck in a rut, numbed and hypnotised by boredom, distracted, preoccupied, anxious and worried about too many things. Let the poet, the saint, and the artist in you to awaken and see, awaken and notice, awaken and really pay attention.