This is Life, Act Two. For most of human history, it wasn’t a given to get an Act Two. In fact, it’s still not. But it is worth recognizing. Because it needs to be recognized and acknowledged, otherwise it’s a whole bunch of stage time that gets wasted while the audience fidgets.
People don’t talk or think about Act Two much because it’s not really in our nature when we’re living Act One. And honestly, most people just stop at Act One. For most of history, most people haven’t lived long enough to see their roles in the Great Stage Play of Life shift past that first curtain call–first through lack of longevity, and then through lack of societal role. Sure, you see maidens go to motherhood, and mothers step into the role of crone, but that’s in relation to someone else’s Act One. You see warriors move to statesmen and then to elders because they’re there as supporting roles to the next cast of Act One-ers. So it’s understandable that we face the curtain’s rise in Act Two and blink in the blinding brightness of the spots and want to take a step back.
Unless you glance to the wings, where the directors wait. Where you realize that, as part of the opening tableau, the direction of the play is actually up to you. You can cue the upcoming cast, as many people do. You can fade into the background, take up a supporting role as a new Act One plays out, until you find yourself an extra, and then part of the stationary scenery.
Or you can step forward and keep the lead role in your own story.