“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, his acts being seven ages.”
Oh, Shakespeare. I’m sure many of you know these lines (or at least the first two) from As You Like It. The Bard served as a sort of prophet with these verses, especially the sentiment that “one man in his time plays many parts”. My life has embodied this phrase, being composed of fragmented parts, isolated and distinct worlds that seldom collide. When I was in college, my worlds consisted of the home life, college life, and for awhile, camp life. The separation has continued since, adding even more strata to the layers of my life.
It is difficult to have relationships that transcend each of these worlds. In my case, many reside primarily in one, perhaps two, of these realms. Their understanding of the others relies solely on my description and account of the stage they do not know. I was talking with a friend last night about the beauty of those who know you throughout the transitions, who see you age over time, who know your past and understand how it has shaped who you have become. Such people are rare treasures. In our longing to know and to be known, it seems that the history is an important part. I consider it a privilege to enter into the homes, the families, the favorite spots of childhood of those who have entered my life a bit later. Their demeanor seems to change as we enter these places of their past. I’m entering a new world; one where perhaps they are more comfortable, free to let down the walls and guards, free to laugh uncontrollably and shine authentically.
There are some people from my past that I wish could see my world today. There are moments of the last few years that I’m glad those who know me now didn’t have to experience with me. While these moments have shaped me into the woman I am today, I do not consider them to be the shining moments or the ones I am most inclined to share. In her book Mudhouse Sabbath, a great little read about Jewish traditions and their value to a life of spiritual discipline, Lauren Winner says the following about hospitality, which I think extends beyond to relationships, vulnerability and honesty:
“…I understood why [he] had spoken of hospitality as unbending one’s self. In this unbending there was a genuine return to hachnassat orchim, to an inviting of guests. The irony is that the unbending requires inviting my neighbors into the very places where I am the most bent. So you see that asking people into my life is not so different from asking them into my apartment. Like my apartment, my interior life is never going to be wholly respectable, cleaned up and gleaming. But that is where I live.”
This is where I live. One person, many parts. Quirky as ever. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.