Is Life a Seven Act Play?

Shakespeare was a pretty enlightened character.

Several of his plays pointed to that the world is just a stage or that we are just poor players on that stage.

The Catalina Casino was built on the site formerly known as Sugarloaf Point. Original image from Carol M. Highsmith’s America. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

Jaques:

“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,

His acts being seven ages.”

As you Like It – Act-II, Scene-VII, Lines 139-143

I have often viewed my life as being on a stage. Usually, I would find myself wondering if I was just in some movie or TV show, part drama, part comedy. Either way undoubtedly exciting and full of ups and downs, but with each waking moment, it keeps moving forward to an end yet discovered.

Curiosity has been my greatest pleasure and my curse. It has kept me interested in life and certainly distracted from what might be expected of me by others. Ah, to find that balance!

We all enter this world as unique expressions of this unknown energy that directs from backstage. Our roles are as individual as us and are constantly changing through the various acts of our life.

Some days we flow with all the joy one can create, and suddenly tragedy falls upon us to generate those cliffhangers or turn pagers to keep the audience interested in enough to see if the hero will survive this one.

And we do.

We have to, or there would be no show, no series.

So whether it’s one season or several, no one knows for sure. Even faced with what seems an immediate death, miracles do happen that enable us to continue onto a new season—one filled with new hope, desires, and challenges for our hero to overcome.

Who knows if it’s seven stages or acts. What we all know about this life are only two things. We came into the world, and we will leave. Between the opening and closing act are just blank pages.

Who is writing? I will let you decide who that might be. How I experience, when I re-read past acts and anticipate what my role will be next, I am usually wrong. I am far better at acting accordingly to what is present.
Life’s play is 100% unpredictable and 100% reliable that something will bound to happen to our hero.

I share Shakespeare’s view on my acting skills too.

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.”

Macbeth

I often misread the scene or did not get the plot. When I need to be understanding, I can act like a jerk. When I need to show up comforting and love, I will act distantly and cold. All this would be okay if we were filming a movie, and there are retakes, but this is a live stage play. Once the line is said, there is no taking that line back. The audience has heard it. The other actors must now act to the best of their understanding of that moment.

As I continue to strut and fret upon this stage, here are some of my takeaways:

  • My conditioned habits and experiences from previous stages or acts are part of my current acting skills.
  • A director backstage will prompt a line or direction if I go silent and don’t know what to do.
  • Despite what I perceive and interrupt in the scene, I don’t have to respond immediately. There is more power in the pause between the lines.
  • I can ask myself at the moment if what I am seeing and interrupting is true or not. I tend to act on what I believe, which comes from my conclusions and judgments originating from the feelings of my thinking.
  • I could deliver any one of my lines differently, and whether someone hears it as intended is not necessarily up to me, but it is not not up to me either.
  • I am not sure of the seven stages or acts. Not sure which one I am in right in the moment, but probably leaning towards the final act given my advanced age (lol).

What about you?

I would be very interested in how you see it, so please leave a comment.

Always fun to share. Stay well and safe.

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