by Shawn Allen
It is one of the oldest ideas: that “all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…”
Certainly, as children, we are not the authors of our lives – it’s our parents’ and society’s job to, at the very least, guide our little destinies. We go from toddlers to young men and women, even into adulthood, allowing things outside ourselves to determine the ‘plot’ of our lives. Even though we may rail against ‘unkind fate’ or ‘the way things are,’ once we’ve reached a certain maturity, we know we are merely avoiding the responsibility of taking the pen up ourselves.
To get through the days, we distract ourselves with the dramas of other people’s lives: family, neighbors, politicians, actors and performers… Some of these plays seem immediate, even real, some we know to be scripted for our benefit. Sometimes we even join the pantomime, take our moment of fame, then rejoin the audience as it watches something like life go on in front of them.
Before long, we forget that it’s all theater. We no longer see the stage, the proscenium, and we cease to notice the curtain calls. More than a few do not lose this awareness; instead they try to erase it with other distractions – alcohol, drugs, sex, even madness.
There are those, however, that become aware of the scripted lines, the rehearsed gestures, and the art of the costumers and set designer. Though they had been born into the illusion, one day the sheer artifice of it all reawakens them to the banality of the scripted lines.
These, once placid members of the great audience, feel suddenly foreign and out-of-place. Like critics sent to review the performance, they become unable to fully immerse themselves into the experience. They then come to realize their own part in the grand illusion, and one day understand that there will be no deus ex machina – no plot twist that saves them unless they take up the playwright’s pen themselves.
At that moment, they are no longer players on the world’s stage. They are seized with a passion, a mania, to claim their birthright as masters of the play, to tear the pen from any hand that would hold it and to burn the old script that seemingly dictated their existence.
And then, to write…
Shawn D. Allen
July 11, 2014