All the World’s a Stage

By Pamela Q. Fernandes

Metz Opera
Metz Opera, France

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players,” so begins the famous pastoral comedy “As You Like It” by William Shakespeare. It is, of course, one of his most famous poetic allusions to the theatre because quite frankly all of life is nothing but a play. Each of us acts a part or has a role that is unique to us. No two people are alike, not even monozygotic twins. Your role and the purpose you serve is unique to you. 

The Role We Play 

Shakespeare

That life is a stage; it is a religious idea in a way that fascinated Shakespeare and many of his fans. The Merchant of Venice and Macbeth have many scenes where the protagonists wonder, about the passions of life that so consumed them only for them to disappear into death having fulfilled their roles in life. And so, each of us plays a role. 

Often, I hear people trivialize themselves or the work they do, “I’m just an accountant or I’m just a housewife. I’m only at an entry-level job.” And on and on the go, making light of who they are and what they do. Yet, the role you play cannot be played by anyone else. You as a friend, as a son, or daughter, mother or father, brother or sister, worker, colleague, artist, lawyer, journalist. There’s none like you. You have a set of talents and experiences that are specific to you. 

What Makes You

Chicago

What makes you, you? The games you played as a child, the books you read, the subjects you learned, the movies you watched, the jokes you heard, the food you ate, the places you visited, the lives that touched yours, the lives you touched, the music you enjoyed, the people you met and the experiences you had, made you, you. And no one else will have the same cocktail of experiences you did. It is what makes you special. It is what makes you so suitable to play that role, the dice of life has handed to you. 

In my own life, I’ve noticed people raise eyebrows when I talk about who I am. I am an Indian-Portuguese by heritage but I was born in Kuwait. We fled the first Gulf War and stayed through the second. I love falafels and shawarma but still love a good chicken xacuti curry that’s been cooked in vinegar. I like dancing the jive and reading English classics. I wear many hats as I host a podcast, sing in a church choir, write fiction and volunteer at a hospital nearly 50 hours a week. I serve when I can and try to play the role I have the best way I know it. It’s not much but it’s the one I got and I try to follow the adage “to bloom where I’m planted.” Often, it’s hard, and I doubt myself and my ability to do it all. The critics and the work can be overwhelming. When Painting Kuwait Violet came out, I was nervous about writing about maids and their struggles. Then my book became a finalist at the American Book Fiction Awards. I realized that no one can do what I do. No one else could have written that book but, me. No one would probably love to do all the things I like doing, the roles I enjoy playing or wearing the many hats I wear. 

Life is Hard

Let’s not brush aside the fact that this play of life is hard. We’re all doing it for the first time and it doesn’t come with a manual. There’s no script to follow. Unlike theatre where the climax is over and the characters go home to real “normal” life, ours is a 24/7 role that never ends until we exit left into eternity. We can’t take a break from being a sibling or a friend, we can’t walk away from our spouses or quit being “us.” And so while on this stage of life, we need to ask ourselves about the purpose we serve and how our lives are being shaped by this purpose. The beauty of human life is that we can change. We can change emotionally, physically, politically and spiritually. We can learn from the mistakes of our ancestors and play our roles better. Having studied other great and not so great people, we can learn to transcend into finer human beings and adapt to our roles. 

You Are A Light

The greatest teacher, Jesus tells people, “You are the light of the world.” He says that to everyone. Each of us has the light to make a difference in the world. No matter how small the role we play in life is. We can be difference makers just by doing the next thing that we’re supposed to do. By playing that role, by changing that diaper, by taking out the trash, by offering a seat on the train, by being kind over the phone, by calling a lonely parent, visiting someone who’s sick, picking up the slack at work, lending a listening ear and simply being who we are. It takes courage and perseverance to do it, especially when no one sees what you do. Don’t lose heart when your role gets tough when life gets tougher when the going is difficult and the path might even be lonely. Just keep going because no one can light up the stage as you do. Even when there are no lights on us, when there’s no publicity, no crowds of adoring fans, no fancy clothes or makeup, just keep on fulfilling the role where all the world is a stage and the light is YOU. 

Pamela Fernandes

Pamela Q. Fernandes is an author, doctor and medical writer. She writes women’s fiction and romance. She hosts The Christian Circle podcast. You can find out more about her at https://www.pamelaqfernandes.com

A Taste of Love

St. Valentine's

by Pamela Fernandes

I remember Maya Angelou’s words, “Eating is so intimate. It’s very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you’re inviting a person into your life.” As we celebrate Valentine’s Month and all things love, I can’t help but think about all the little ways food enhances our love. If you consider your own love stories, I’m sure you’re mind would go back to those coffee dates, dinners— casual fare or expensive three-course meals, chocolates, wine, and cake. Even the occasions we celebrate to mark our love, engagements, weddings, and anniversaries, all include food. We say “I love you” through the food we share and the meals we make for the people we deeply care about. There’s an intimacy to sharing food. 

What To Cook?

Recall when you had your significant other come over to your place for the first time. You must have agonized over what to serve. What must be their taste? Or what about that first date? I’d bet money that you spent an hour or so considering which restaurant and the cuisine that they would enjoy. Why? Because food conveys our love. Food is an expression of the deepest feelings in our hearts. And so, there are aphrodisiacs and foods that keep the romance alive, all in the hope that the spark we feel with another person is kindled and reciprocated in them. 

Wine

The movie Chocolat based on the novel by Joanne Harris demonstrates just that. Food and romance are two of the most basic pleasures in life. And with them intertwined, we satisfy the most basic needs of another. Food also forms a major part of our lives. One of the most important activities we’ll share with a lover is dining with them, as often as daily. Our dining companion is going to be someone who knows how to woo us with food. The people we do select to be our potential mates or lovers tend to be the people who make an amazing entrance, they order with elan, eat with gusto and make scintillating conversation that we can’t get enough of. How could we ignore the person who notices us cringe at our horribly mixed cocktail and orders a fine wine instead? How do we walk away from the woman who bakes a delicious chocolate cake that makes you go back for seconds? You don’t. And pair that with a conversation that has you reeling or enthralled. A lover with stories to tell. Those are the ones we keep. The ones we keep dating and inviting until finally, we realize we want them to talk to us forever, every day for the rest of our lives. 

A Taste Of Ourselves

Food is also a revelation of ourselves. Since what we eat is a reflection of our personalities, we show our lovers who we are through the food we cook or eat. In my latest romance, IN OTHER WORDS, my main protagonist is a chef. He cooks foods close to his heart; foods that remind him of the happy part of his childhood. Lobster bisque and clam chowder, classic Maine food that formed his past and shaped his future. He takes out the Trish on a date to an Upta Camp and shows her Maine through the food and drink; seafood and Moxie. 

Breakfast, kiwi

When someone cooks their grandmothers’ turkey recipe for Thanksgiving or takes you out to their favorite hang out for a burger, they’re inviting you to look at who they are. They’re telling you, “Hey, this is me.” 

Our food reflects us. In his famous book, In Search Of Lost Time, Proust recalls how the taste of tea mixed with a madeleine transported him back to that time in Combray when he visited his aunt and she’d dip the biscuit in her tisane and give it to him. He says of that memory, “And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence.” The memory of that biscuit filled him with love, that sweet magic ingredient that makes life worth living.

Celebrate With Food

Therefore, this year, if you’re tempted to skimp on the chocolates or just hand over a bouquet of flowers, think again. Why not tell someone how you feel through food? Go out to dinner, cook something special or splurge on the wine. The food is a part of you, a part of the promise of your relationship and it is you expressing yourself and your love. 

Heart, Love

It invokes memories and forges new ones. It allows you to let other people see you and your intentions towards them. And it’s so much more. As Alan D Wolfelt said, “Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” It’s not the taste of food but quite spectacularly the taste of love. 

I leave you with an Irish blessing;

May love and laughter light your days,

and warm your heart and home.

May good and faithful friends be yours,

wherever you may roam.

May peace and plenty bless your world

with joy that long endures.

May all life’s passing seasons

bring the best to you and yours!

Happy Hearts day!