In Act Two Scene Seven of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, the melancholy Jacques begins his monologue with the line: “All the World’s a Stage.”
To this day, this is one of old Willy’s most famous and oft quoted lines and, of course, like so many of Shakespeare’s brilliant quotes, has become interwoven into our everyday parlance and vernacular.
Aside from humanity’s daily play-acting and always-dramatic machinations (think of how your “work” self might differ from say, your ‘home” self, as well as the ever-degenerating circus we like to call International Politics) there are many people for whom the world IS a stage, both personally and professionally.
I am of course speaking of thespians, or actors, or dramatists, or however else we (or they) would like to be classified.
Actors make us believe in make believe.
Through this proclamation – that all the world is a stage – they actually make us forget this (easily parodied but always present) reality.
This is one hell of a paradox, but is ultimately the magic of great theater (or cinema, or whatever other artistic medium a performance might take.)
Brilliant actors have the power to transform – not only as individuals on stage in character, but transform all of us who sit watching, entranced.
When I was in grade twelve I went to a production of the Daniel McIvor’s Marion Bridge.
For three hours I sat barely breathing, enraptured by three women who commanded the stage with such understated and yet overwhelming brilliance.
The play is about three Nova Scotian sisters – a nun, an actress, and a truck driver – who are all coming to grips with the sickness, and eventual death of their mother.
It is an uproariously hilarious and deeply devastating work of art.
Driving home with my then-boyfriend after the final curtain call I cried harder than I can ever remember crying up until that point in my life.
It was as I had stumbled upon and then cracked open a long-forgotten and deeply hidden store of unrelenting sadness.
When I think about that drive, all I can remember is the taste of my fat, hot tears, and the sensation of my deflated body wracked by a heart-shattered palsy.
My poor boyfriend just kept looking over at me and asking, “Are you alright?”
And while all of my answers were just different iterations of blubbered wails, all I really want to tell him was that I couldn’t be more right.
I was all right.
Of late, I’ve been moving. Gifted with an abundance of extra energy, I feel like an ever re-generating battery, charging about in search of my lost bunny ears.
This dynamism has manifested itself in early morning pre-work runs, and late-evening workouts (as I watch old episodes of QI on Netflix.)
Yesterday morning I ran the farthest I’ve ever ran in one outing – twenty-three kilometers. I recently signed-up for my first full marathon (Boundary Bay on November 2nd) so I figured it’s time to stop faffing around and get serious.
I even fell at 12.5km, but picked myself up and carried on my way.
I want some serious mileage under my belt by the time that starting gun is fired.
(Because I secretly, though not-so-secretly, really, really want to quality for Boston at this race.)
However all of this activity can make it hard to find the quiet moments.
So I’ve been using these long training sessions to work on my ability to just “be” with myself.
I’ve been really trying to focus on this whole mindfulness thing.
I’m trying to be fully engaged – both mentally and physically. (Much like the aforementioned Jacques, only my wealth of optimism stands much less depleted.)
I’m trying to really feel everything.
Which is hard.
Dance parties ALL OF THE TIME.
Which is easy.