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The Original "Getting Real"

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Friday, 23 October 2009

All The World Is A Stage

"All the world's a stage," wrote Shakespeare in describing the comings and goings and passing of time in a person's life. It's interesting to consider that in the lives of most of the people that we know, we are all bit-part players. We appear on the periphery of someone's memory or as something like 'serving wench' or 'third gentleman' in someone else's script. At the same time, we constantly appear centre-stage in our own drama.

Hamlet (obviously, from a different play) is a character whom I adored in my youth. His psychological complexity; his contradictions - one moment total inaction and apathy, the next rash action - have such appeal but he was merely the centre of his own play, as we all are, perhaps. And, to quote him, "therein lies the rub." Laertes, on the other hand, was straight to the point - a character who does not inspire such affection because he seems to lack the complexity that makes Hamlet so appealing as he sits hugging the skull of the late jester, or suddenly engaging in a rash sword fight to the death.

Nowadays, I think Hamlet is the epitome of youthful angst and self-centredness. His obsession with the idea that he has been wronged and must, somehow, avenge that wrong, is combined with the idea that his motives are altruistic (on behalf of his dead father). The bit part players in his life mean nothing to him and even as he cradles that skull, he is really thinking of himself and his own mortality.

And maybe that is how most of us view the world. We fight our own imaginary battles, and for our own illusory causes, constantly blaming some outside interference and never realizing that we are creating our own drama. We get to choose if we want to be tragic or comic heroes or heroines. We have the possibility of writing our own scripts; and sometimes it is very interesting to hear the bit-part players in our lives and suddenly realize we are also bit-part players in someone else's play. How fascinatingly we all interact!

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