PLACES ACT THREE
If as if Shakespeare said “all the world is a stage” this is turning out to be one elongated intermission.
After six months spent primarily at home due to the pandemic, I have come to the deep-seated recognition that I am entering the third and final act of my life. This recognition fills me with a personal sense of profound curiosity and wonder. I say that I am entering the third act because it truly feels as if this time of distancing is a period of cosmically enforced time out. A time of extended intermission. I feel as if this is a pause between the second and third acts of my life experience. It is not that I am not fully engaged in what is happening. It is more that it is such a unique and more solitary perspective that I feel both paused and vitally involved. Awake spiritually though distanced physically. There is a simmering of “yes, but not yet” right below the surface.
Though working full time albeit at home I have added time to reflect on what has occurred during the first and second acts of my life. There was the setting of the stage and plot. There was character introduction and development. There were the unfolding’s of the patterns and conflicts that I came here to rumble with and eventually resolve. There were many years of becoming that have been achieved by what at times felt like endless struggle, mistake making, and ego wrestling. It has been a messy story line. Plots have not unfolded according to this script writer. Countless people have not followed those scripts or spoken the lines I wanted them to speak.
Act one ended with the thud of me hitting the pavement. The folly of my attempts at control would leave the most audacious audience members wincing and hitting the bar during the first intermission. They would do so even though they had just witnessed what hitting the bar too often can do to a human life.
So act one lasted a long and adventurous thirty three years.
Act two begins with our hero (me) moving through incredible and mostly unforeseen changes and challenges. Still bruised from act one I had no inkling how dramatic act two would turn out to be. Generally speaking, it was a series of mountains to climb and rough seas to surf. I early on recognized that while in act one I was prone to initiating and instigating dramas for the sake of drama in act two the action had a distinct flavor of purposeful activity. I began to live with an unwavering sense that everything was a part of a greater emergence. Though there were many unexpected twists and turns I also had the sense that I was deliberately participating in the story line. It was all becoming clear that I was on a mission here. Everything that happened was feeding into that quest. It was all leading to something. It was messy and it was meaningful. The more I sensed purpose the less I pushed.
In act one I had jobs that supported me in what would become my career. Early on in act two career gave way to vocation. Trying to make my way in the world somehow landed me in living to serve the world. All the pain and struggle of act one and that of act two began to be channeled into ways to help others who were themselves struggling. I was plagued by self-doubt and incrimination for sure. As prayer softened this faulty sense of self that torment turned into compassion and mercy for others. Forgiveness became a higher and more precious practice. I slowly felt more stable and certain as to why things in this drama were happening as they were occurring.
Act two went on for a far less arduous thirty years.
This play within a play has lasted long enough for me to mostly know my way around this stage. Set pieces still get unexpectedly moved. But now I know how to adapt and respond with greater clarity and even equanimity. I have become masterful at adlibbing. I am far less demanding that others follow my script or stage directions. While I do not know how or when, I do live with a sense that everything is headed in a direction that will serve my characters greater evolution. I have a director that is Higher and Wiser than me and that makes all the difference for sure. My subtext has dramatically changed and so my lines and actions. I still run into the scenery and step on other people’s toes and lines from time to time. I periodically give into the temptation to upstage. Mostly acts one and two have tamed and tempered me.
I feel ready to face whatever the next act will reveal.
And then came an intermission that none of us saw coming.
I have come to see it as an inner-mission.
This has turned out to be a purposeful pause from my perspective. I have dedicated myself from the onset to staying as present and as prayerful as possible. I have remained alert to the suffering that is all around me and have actively sought to open to ways to alleviate that suffering. I decided that I would not deaden myself nor waste this time in mine and in human history. I have dived deeply within. I have faced things that I now know I desperately needed to face and unpack. I am different than I was even six months ago. I am still here and I know that it is for a reason. A reason bigger than just me.
And I am clear that this is my inner-mission before the start of act three of my life.
And so, I am exploring carefully how I will choose to show up for these final years of this adventure. I am relishing time, experiences, relationships with more fervor than ever. I feel that there will be far less mountains to climb or seas to surf. I am peaceful with that. I know there will be surprises. There will be challenges and changes and hurts and losses. I have groomed a lifetime to handle those. There will be no self-selected dramas. Simplicity is replacing thrill seeking. Peacefulness is my primary plan. And I will serve throughout the duration. The form will no doubt change. The vocation will not. Act three will bear the fruits of acts one and two.
At the end of act one I began to dread the future.
At the end of act two I have cleared most of the wreckage of the past and live primarily for the present.
I await the Great stage manager to call places, letting me know the extended inner-mission has ended and that act three is finally ready to begin. In fact, I am already in a great place for whatever comes next. Let the action begin.
I look forward to seeing how this epic adventure plays out. How it all resolves. I know now that I am a great love story unfolding. It took a whole lot of drama to figure that out. A whole lot of drama.
The house lights may be dimming soon…