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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The 'Actor' and the New 'Director'

"If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful. In trying to make these arrangements our actor may sometimes be quite virtuous. He may be kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing. On the other hand, he may be mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest. But, as with most humans, he is more likely to have varied traits."
-- Alcoholics Anonymous, pages 60-61 --
The description of the individual as an actor is apt. Each of us has an array of characters that we play, all designed to get us what we want or think we need in a given situation, be it security, companionship, mental or emotional gratification, etc. Each of us is readily able to adopt the persona we think we need to project in order to get what we want in any given instance. And the more intense the situation, the more readily a person will adopt the seemingly required persona.

Indeed, the words "person"  and "persona" themselves are derived from the Greek word used for the masks worn by actors in the ancient ampitheatres. In this sense, as the author of the 'Big Book' notes, we are each like actors in a play - alcoholic, addict, and so-called 'normal' person alike. And each of us, as an "actor" is also a "hypocrite," as that is what the Greek word for an actor was.

Having made the admission of our "personal" powerlessness, the question then becomes: How do we get out of this all-too-human dilemma of being an ill-prepared actor who is compelled to try running the entire show?

The answer is once again humility. Just as being honest and telling the truth means that we do not have to remember what we say; so, too, being humble means we do not have to think about what persona we need to adopt in a given situation. Humility, thus gives us the ability to be who we are in our essence; not our smaller "self" or "ego," but our true Self, just one of the infinitely individualized aspects of God.
"This is the how and the why of it," we read at page 62 in Alcoholics Anonymous. "First of all we had to quit playing God. It didn't work. Next we decided that in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom."

"When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new Employer. Being all powerful He provided what we needed if we kept close to Him and performed His work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow, or the hereafter. We were reborn."
Powerful words. Yet, the idea of giving up the roles we have played to get what we want in order, in humility, to get what we need is a novel yet powerful idea. It is in surrendering - our personas, our directorship, and our lives as mere actors - that we win. And this is yet another of the great paradoxes of recovery that fly in the face of our old ideas and attitudes.

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