“Life’s like a play; it’s not the length
but the excellence of the acting that matters.”
Seneca the Younger
Roman statesman and philosopher
(3 BC – AD 65)
When I read this Thought for the Day in the newspaper this morning, I considered how true it still is. Seneca may have lived 2000 years ago, but the truths of life continue on through the millennia. In our day, as it was in Seneca’s day, life is our “play” and the quality of our “acting” matters greatly.
A diagnosis of a fatal illness brings this into focus in a very abrupt way. Before diagnosis, life seemed to be spread out before me with many experiences and opportunities to come far into the future even though I knew then that no one is guaranteed a long life. After diagnosis, that all changed. The reality of a shorter future was right there staring me in the face.
Now, the quality of my “acting” takes on a new dimension. I have always tried to live with integrity and honesty and with caring for my fellow life travelers. As a first grade teacher, I had the privilege of educating young children and starting them off on their academic journey. I felt a great responsibility and took it very seriously. As I look back on those years, I know I aspired to excellence and hope I achieved it. When I was Alpha Delta Kappa Washington State President, my theme for the two year term was, “In Pursuit of Excellence.” Those words guided me in all aspects of the responsibilities of that office.
In the time I have left, I want my “acting” to be excellent. I hope to make a difference by giving back and I am still searching for how I will do that. With my compromised immune system, volunteering in a school or any place where a lot of people congregate is probably out of the question. I am leaning toward volunteering at the Providence Regional Cancer Partnership which is where I had my radiation, chemo and I continue to see my oncologist. I will be attending a Survivorship series there and may be interested in becoming a facilitator for future classes. The most important thing is to not waste any of the precious time I have.
On a lighter note, I must take issue with Seneca. It is easy to say the length of the play doesn’t matter when you don’t have a diagnosis of multiple myeloma or any other life threatening illness. I still DO want the “play” to last a very long time and the length does matter. Even though I have that thought, I know that Seneca was right and it is the “excellence of the acting” that matters most.