Thursday, November 16, 2017

All The World's A Stage Part 1

As I’ve gained wisdom through the years through life’s experiences I’ve found the first lines of this soliloquy by William Shakespeare in As You Like It truly resonates with me.

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,

This quote seems as insightful today, perhaps even more so, than it was during the late 16th Century when the play was first performed. We have such a greater knowledge of the world stage and our morphing roles within in it. We are all actors within our family dramas, local communities, work environments, states, countries, continents and members of the human race. The passage of time makes the different roles seem as we have lived multiple lives - at least that is my perspective. Sometimes it hardly seems possible that I’ve played some of the roles in my past.
One of my first memories is from the age of 4. I recall being a happy child looking out the window of my brother’s bedroom, seeing a school bus at St. Bridget elementary, and looking with excitement to the time that I could join those grown up kids at school.

The next stage I recall my student days feeling awkward, aspiring to a perfection that could not be achieved, worried that I would never measure up and would disappoint myself and my parents. In high school I developed anorexia and tried to starve myself. Thinness meant beauty, fitting in, an indicator of future success. But all I achieved was additional insecurity.

My university years passed by in a blur. I had the good fortune to spend a year in England; to travel through Europe with a backpack while staying at bed & breakfasts, exploring places that I’d dreamed of seeing during my childhood, meeting fascinating people, and exulting in independence. I also became involved in my first dysfunctional relationship with a college professor. Fortunately, he dumped me long distance.

I then stumbled into the insurance industry. French majors had few potential employers calling. In the days before cell phones, computers, the internet, etc. we relied on college recruiters, paper resumes, and the newspaper want ads. I accepted a job as a trainee claims adjuster with the now defunct Commercial Union Assurance Company in Indianapolis. I had no idea what a claims adjuster actually did. But… I took the job anyway, learned the business, and ultimately cultivated a rewarding career out of the accidental job. I’ve yet to meet anybody that dreamed of working in insurance claims.

Quite by accident I met for first husband. I was visiting my aunt and uncle in Dallas. My Uncle Clyde introduced me to a family friend hoping we would hit if off. We didn’t. But he suggested I call his best friend who as just moved to Indianapolis. I called. We had one date. He had nowhere to go for Thanksgiving so out of pity I invited him to my parents’ for the holiday. Four years later my mother commented that it was his 5th Thanksgiving. My parents loved him. I liked him and thought marriage to this individual would make sense. There was no passion. No great love. Just easy companionship. It was a mistake. I tried to change him. After some years I succeeded to some extent, but I truly disliked my creation. The most wonderful result of our marriage, however, was the role I was next able to play - that of an American expatriate in Asia for five years. I’ll save that role for the next post.

But I’ve come to believe that by the time I was 28 I had already acted in 5 separate and distinct plays portraying different roles during each phase.

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