By Qin Sun Stubis
Live theatre plays and motion pictures often satisfy our insatiable appetite and need for drama, from Shakespeare’s plays to Hollywood movies, from gruesome tragedies to sweet comedies, from life-based true stories to fiction spun out of our wildest imaginings.
For many, nothing is more satisfying than being captivated by a stage or screen performance. In a pitch-dark theatre, our eyes are glued to a story unfolding in front of us with live players and our minds are transported to a different world of which we’re now a part. We laugh, and we cry; we grow angry and get surprised; our emotions run up and down, pouring out to the characters as if they’ve always played an important part in our real lives.
What are the keys to a good movie or a great play? To me, it’s a simple question with a sure answer: The actors and actresses, of course. Without them, a movie would be a mere script, and a play, a stream of words.
What are the keys to a good life? Money, social power, or a good job? This question with seemingly many answers, also has actually one simple, definitive answer: Oneself. Your life exists only because of you. Whether you want to or not, you’re required to play many, many roles throughout your lifetime, some simultaneously. A child, a student, a doctor, a parent, a colleague…and more.
As common sense tells us, our happiness in life is directly correlated with how much we enjoy playing our roles. When motivated, we’re often surprised by how well we can do things, whether being a loving parent, a successful businessperson, or a self-taught plumber.
No one is born with role-playing skills. Everyone goes through a learning process, involving growing up, gaining knowledge, getting advice, seeking counseling, stumbling, falling down, and getting back on our feet. Eventually, we get better at some parts and give up on others, shaping a life that is uniquely ours.
Though this Shakespeare’s quote, “All the world’s a stage,” has been used enough times to become a cliché, few of us consciously think of our life as a stage, and our daily behaviors as role-playing. We just do things and live our lives, having more successful and happier moments during some stages of life than others.
Remember, every great life has its dark, dreary moments, and every hard life its happy, relaxing times. Like an actor getting assignments, we face all sorts of roles in a lifetime, some boring and ordinary, others hard and challenging. Think about the first astronauts heading to the moon, or the pilgrims aboard the Mayflower. There are no good or bad roles in life. We, and we alone, determine the success of our own dramas.
You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(originally published in The Santa Monica Star)