Yesterday one of my former students lost her husband to a heart attack; a young family is now fatherless. A good friend in his 60s just lost his brother to cancer early today.
As I write, my wife and I are sitting in a RaceTrac C-Store, enjoying free Wi-Fi and a cup of coffee; Carly Simon just got through singing, “You’re So Vain,” on the overhead sound system, and the atmosphere is inviting and comfortable.
It is a beautiful fall day outside, with milder temperatures than we’ve had recently. While we are enjoying our hint of spring, New York is still feeling the effects of record snowfall.
The President will address the issue of immigration tonight; politics and world events trudge along. Israel was bombed a day or so ago; many are suffering the loss of loved ones. And families across our country are looking toward the beloved tradition of Thanksgiving next week.
Have you ever paid much attention to the credits at the end of a movie? I am always fascinated at the number of jobs and positions. One that constantly intrigues me is “Casting.” You know, the person(s) who decides who gets to play which role.
Clearly, by the time the movie hits the screen any decision about roles is ancient history. Once those roles have been set, and contracts signed, actors are not at liberty to “try out” for another part; changes like that are not made in a willy-nilly fashion.
When the casting is done well . . . the movie is usually a success, assuming (that is) the screen writing, directing, camera work, sound work, makeup, stunt work, editing, location selection, wardrobe, catering, transportation, etc. are all done well, too.
There are lots of pieces in the puzzle, aren’t there? More than I ever realized.
Our lives are like that.
Sometimes I ask myself what my role is in this life. Who am I here to support in this “all the world’s a stage” existence? Do I have a speaking part? Or am I just an extra?
Am I a principal whose part is crucial to the storyline? And no matter what my role is determined to be, can I play it in such a way as to make the other actors’ and technicians’ jobs easier?
I am at a loss as to how to comfort my former student and my good friend. The storyline has moved forward in their lives, doubtless in a way they would rewrite if they had the chance. But the roles have been set; the parts are being played. And the story keeps moving ahead, unfolding as it proceeds; baffling us, surprising us, and sometimes overwhelming us.
None of us is the director. None of us is the screen writer. Nor are we technicians in this drama we call life. We are the actors. There was a casting call. We responded to it.
Now we must play the role we have been given.