25 Jan The Play

Shakespeare said:
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts”
We do all play different parts at different times…But I don’t believe our lives are just “sound and fury signifying nothing” as the Bard went on to say. When you’ve had your world torn apart-or lost a chunk here or there-life can seem absurd. Irrelevant. But while we’re still on the stage the show must go on. If we find meaning and motivation in our roles we can learn our new parts when other characters and props come and go as the scenery changes.

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I’ve learned that “the play” can change from comedy to tragedy at a moments notice. Love, loss, pain and hope are all part of the story and who we become as a result signifies everything. Without compassion, understanding, experience and practice we can only ever be “bad actors”.

If a good character is revealed by their interactions with others, then maybe our motivation should be to help one another. When someone forgets their cue, ruins a scene or flubs an important line, other characters can try to make up for it and we can learn and grow together–a team effort to get that curtain call at the end. Leaving the world with something positive to talk about.

When a major disaster happens, like a death, there is no way to smooth it over. You can’t just move on like nothing happened, talking to an empty chair. It seems all you can do is stand there in shock with whoever is left, the bright lights of the stage in your face, not knowing what to say. At times there are no lines and all you can do is wait and listen. Even surrounded by support…pain is individual. But in my experience, suffering together beats suffering alone. And perhaps mourning with those who mourn is another way to find meaning and significance in the play.

When we lose sight of our motivation and the meaning of the play, it seems to “signify nothing”. But I cant believe that the stage was built for no reason and that what we do doesn’t matter. Sometimes we nail a scene, other times we all mess up, forget a line and miss a beat. We don’t have it all figured out, but maybe we aren’t supposed to. What better way to sort out the true nature of something or someone than a blind test or an improv? William Wordsworth’s poem suggests that there is so much more to us than meets the eye:

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
… And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.”

Then, maybe death is a waking and remembering and we will someday realize this play was of the utmost importance. Whether in front of the curtain or on the other side of it, this play is ours. And it will go on with laughter, misery, triumph, tears, kindness and violence. We decide. Together we create an edge-of-your-seat show with ups, downs, plot twists and ultimately a surprise ending followed by a fabulous cast party in the sky.

Break a leg, everyone.

Jo Schaffer
joschaffer@yahoo.com
2 Comments
  • Kathleen Seable
    Posted at 21:47h, 28 January Reply

    Yes, it is important to keep in mind as Hugh Nibley so aptly said that this life is Act II in a three act play. If you are not aware of the other acts you can be totally confused by being plunked down on stage in Act II frantically trying to figure out your part and the plot of the production…….

    • Jo Schaffer
      Posted at 21:58h, 28 January Reply

      So true.

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