Some days, it felt so clear. She was opting in to play this part. The phone rings, a deep breath, turn on that sweet “telephone voice,” and answer. A knock on the door, face muscles spring into action, body remembers who it is supposed to be, she opens the door. All day long it went on like this. She’ll put on these boots, because they tell this story. She’ll order that at the cafe, because that’s also part of the story of who she is. Conscious citizen, loyal friend, dutiful daughter. Calm, happy, sweet, girl, woman, she, her, me.
These were all choices, albeit mostly unconscious. A constant effort to present as this or that, to play the role of herself. Remembering and holding up the elaborate backstory, the work of an actor.
What a spectacle.
Every night, a sweet reprieve. The sun sets, the curtain closes. The spectacle dims and she retreats off stage. A big exhale. Darkness, solitude, meditation. She lets go of it all. Here, backstage, she drops the boots, the costume, the props to the floor. The muscles in her face relax, the mask is lowered.
Maybe she was spending too much time meditating. Meaning, stories, roles, were all dissolving. Maybe it wasn’t too much. Maybe it was just enough. To see clearly.
Maybe she was spending too much time in VR. Maybe it was just enough. To see the parallels. The world really is a stage, we are mere players. We really do live in a virtual reality. What’s the difference between this body and this avatar anyway?
It was becoming so clear.
And yet, it didn’t make her want to stop playing along. No. Spend the rest of the game on the sidelines? What a waste of a life.
Actually, the clearer it all became, and the more she was able to see it for what it really was, the more precious it all was -- the stage, the lights, the costumes, the other players, the entire play. Even the human stories. It was silly and it was magic. She delighted in the absurdity.
She would keep playing along. The play was not the problem. The play was everything -- life itself. The problem was forgetting what it was. The problem was being pressed too close to really see it clearly, and taking it all -- the role, the props, the plot -- too seriously. The problem was forgetting she had a choice in every moment, to play it this way, or that, or not at all.
Yes, she would keep playing along. But she wouldn’t forget. She would remember and step back from the scene, create space to witness, to choose how to act and react. She would remember all this and play along for the fun of it. For the experience of being fully alive in the midst of shapes and colours, sounds and textures, the buzzing and beating in her chest.
But she would remember who she was, or rather, who she was not. No she, no hers, no solid self. No me, no you; no us, no them. Just this, just in it, just right now. Just playing, and being here.