#BlogElul – Act
It’s theatre – 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 (a bit of Shakespeare from As You Like It). We take ourselves so seriously sometimes! As if everything we do matters intently, as if these lines from the Unetaneh Tokef that we will say on Yom Kippur aren’t reality, aren’t fundamental “Our origin is dust and our end is dust, we spend our lives earning bread. We are like a clay vessel, easily broken, like withering grass, a fading flower, a passing shadow, a fugitive cloud, a fleeting breeze, scattering dust, a vanishing dream…”
So, today, we can – I can (one of these days I’ll learn not to speak for everyone else) take a step back and realize that I don’t actually have to take myself so seriously! I’m just acting, in a play. It’s a good play, and important and fundamental, but it’s only a play. I can stop fretting about being good or evil or this or that, and just focus on figuring out my cues, learning my lines and enjoying the performance as much as possible while being part of it. (The scenery is breathtaking, and the props are pretty cool.)
Of course I make mistakes! Everyone says their lines wrong sometimes. I keep the performance going, faking that I said it right, and that gets me through a daily show sometimes. However, I know I need to practice correct responses to cues, and so I do and then, my next performance is even better. Remembering that I’m acting lets me to let go of hubris and hopelessness at the same time. How can I have false pride in something that’s just a role, with lines and situations pre-created for me which I just have to play out well? (I can have real pride in my abilities as an actress, of course.) Why feel hopeless when this is only a play? I might feel annoyed when something happens to a favourite on a show, but I don’t have a hissy fit about it.
Seeing my life as an act also lets me look at how I can improve. I act like the woman I want to become this year, even if it doesn’t always feel real. I can act supportive, accepting, hopeful, hardworking, or temperate even if I feel selfish, frustrated, overwhelmed, lazy and greedy. Now, I’ve heard people say “that’s being fake!” Is it, though? Or is it being an actor, on this beautiful stage that is the world I live in. Acting the right way, following the steps of the dance regardless of how I’m feeling at the moment, that’s a core Jewish value.
Today, I act. I pray that this year, God helps me make the play a comedy (She does, but usually at my expense) rather than a tragedy. I enjoy the role I get, and I work to do a good job playing my part. Who knows? I might just become that character – I better make it a good one.