All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
- William Shakespeare
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, for we are underlings.
- William Shakespeare
This world is a tamasha, a grand show. In this hullabaloo, we all have our part to play. But what makes for a great performance?
1. Be in the moment.
The finest movie scenes are usually those where the actor is fully absorbed in the shot. He is not distracted with thoughts of the scene just wrapped up or the one that comes next. The actor is lost in the current moment. We, on the other hand, rarely ever live the life that is right in front of us. Our days are spent extolling the virtues of our past or making future plans. Our happiness is not now. We either were or soon will be happy. We wait on it like a delivery from Amazon.
Shams, Rumi’s spiritual mentor, guides us to a better life: “The past is an interpretation. The future is on illusion. The world does not move through time as if it were a straight line, proceeding from the past to the future. Instead time moves through and within us, in endless spirals. If you want to experience eternal illumination, put the past and the future out of your mind and remain within the present moment.”
2. Don’t pretend.
As per two-time Oscar winner Glenda Jackson, “Acting is not about dressing up. Acting is about stripping bare.” The most celebrated performances are the ones where the actor does not seem to be acting at all. He stays true to the character. It feels honest and real, even under imaginary circumstances.
Instead of authentically acting out our parts, we usually just pretend. We make it up as we go along, leading a double life. We shroud our thoughts and intentions. Hypocrisy and deception becomes the norm. We get so deep in the habit of pretending before others that we forget our own character. Strangely, we appear disguised before ourselves.
3. Embrace uncertainty.
Great actors take risks, and they are not afraid to fail. They must face numerous rejections and disappointments before they are given an opportunity. Acting is a really tough way to make a living. There is no stability or predictability of earnings. This forces them to improvise, but it also gives them complete freedom.
We can’t run from what’s comfortable. Because we’re so afraid of the unknown, we wish to have a clear-cut idea of how our story will unfold. We want to be in full control. Not knowing it is an illusion. So when things come at us from out of left field, we curse the universe.
Blogger Tim Hoch writes: “It is little wonder that you believe the world revolves around you. After all, you have been at the very center of every experience you have ever had. You are the star of your own movie. You wrote the script. You know how you want it to unfold. You even know how you want it to end. Unfortunately, you forgot to give your script to anyone else. Among the many shortcomings of your family and friends is the harsh reality that they cannot read your mind or anticipate your whims. As a result, people are unaware of the role they are supposed to play. Then, when they screw up their lines, or fail to fall in love with you or don’t give you a promotion, your movie is ruined. Lose your script. Let someone else star once in awhile. Welcome new characters. Embrace plot twists.”
Soon the curtains will be drawn.