All The World’s Not A Stage

A couple of weekends ago some friends and I drove over to Dallas to go to a concert. On the drive over, rather then get an early start on my homework, I used the time to philosophize as I stared out the window,  drifting in and out of conversation and soaking in the Texas scenery as it flowed by. This is a process most commonly known as  procrastination.

While I was procrastinating  philosophizing, I started thinking about my major (theatre) and about Shakespeare’s famous words from the melancholy Jacques’ monologue in As You Like It:

“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”

I think this analogy works in a lot of ways. We are all “actors” in a sense. Most of us wear “costumes” to express our “character.” In different situations we sometimes put on an “act” to impress or persuade. However, we don’t get much of a rehearsal. “All the world’s a stage,” and the moment  we step out the door we are performing. And we all have an audience, whether we want one or not. People watch us, and based on what they see they formulate an opinion; and so we begin to develop a reputation much like actors do.

All this seems to fit, but the more I thought about it, the more unsatisfied I was with the analogy. Why did I feel that as similar as they may be, the stage and the world, the two are ultimately incomparable? I felt like Shakespeare was missing something, but I was afraid to voice my blasphemy. Thankfully, Dallas provided me with the answer I was looking for.

We stopped at Sarah’s house, and I stayed the night in her brothers room. He’s in the film industry, and he had a plaque on his wall with this quote on it:

“The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn’t.”

How very true. A character in a play has lines, an arc, a beginning and an end written out in ink. Our lives are not so simple. Many times I wonder where I’m going, or if I’m going anywhere at all. I struggle to discover who my “character” is, what I like and what I don’t like, who I want to be, and what I want to be known for. We are each our own playwrights, determining our stories with each waking breath, deciding who we want to be. Some days this feels like a curse. Some days, I don’t want to write. I don’t want to dream, I don’t want to discover, I want to know where I’m going, I want to follow a script. I glare at the heavens and demand answers, because some days, holding the pen in my own hand is more responsibility than I can bear.

But more and more I’m learning to accept the blank page as a blessing. I’m learning to be grateful for having a pen at all, for the strength to move forward in my story. And I do my best to remember that I’m allowed to make mistakes. Even though we are forced to write in pen (in life there’s no erasing), my editor will never fail to revise and polish my work, making beauty out of desperate scribbles. When I write something foolish, he will redeem it. When I wander aimlessly and feel hopeless, he will remind me of who I am. Though life may not always make sense as I walk through it, I’m trusting that in the end, I will look back and see the hand of God guiding my pen. I’m believing that within each of us lies the power to write a masterpiece worthy of Shakespeare. This belief gives me hope, the hope I need to continue to write. And someday, when held in the hands of God, my script will finally make sense.


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