from: Shakespeare Stealer
by: Gary Blackwood
Here are the first four lines of that famous speech:
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, As You Like It, Act II, Scene vii.
https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/you-it-act-ii-scene-vii-all-worlds-stage for the rest.
So it goes throughout our lives, each phase a mere seven years spent growing, learning, loving, protecting what is ours, seeking justice, achieving wisdom, reverting to a second childhood. I imagine myself not as a player like Shakespeare suggests, but as someone trying to discover and be true to my strongest beliefs.
Most days, I find myself in those late-middle phases.
Protecting what is mine has moved away from protecting my children (who are capably protecting themselves and theirs) to a bigger stage. Our earth is hanging in the balance. It will take the effort of many thousands (millions or more?) people working together to find a good outcome. I tend my own garden. With my own compost, literal and figurative. With my own consciousness and deliberateness. With my own example (and words, for anyone who will listen).
Seeking justice is a little trickier for me. I tend to shy away from protests, political rallies and large crowds in general. But the message that our world is in trouble and we need to do the work to fix it needs to be spread. Lots of brave souls are doing just that. I choose to support them.
Achieving wisdom is also tricky. I spend time trying to decide if my thoughts are wise or just stubbornly mine. If my actions come from a place of genuine compassion or selfish pride. If my decisions reflect my desire to conserve resources responsibly, and promote good causes or if I'm climbing on someone else's bandwagon without much of my own thought.
According to Shakespeare, I have lived past my seven phases of seven years each, before even reaching my last. Now I look forward to a looong time spent in that second childhood. After all, isn’t that one of the great purposes for grandchildren: giving us time to get on our hands and knees and play in the dirt again? This time around, with judgement and wisdom.
Thanks, Bill (okay, William) for reminding me of how wonderful it is to be alive, how much work still needs to be done, and over all, as Polonius in Act I, scene iii of Hamlet says, “to thine own self be true.”
Happy Earth Day!
Happy Birthday, Mr. Shakespeare!