Life’s like a play: it’s not the length, but the excellence of the acting that matters. – Seneca
What does that mean?
Most people don’t win awards like a Tony, an Oscar, or a Golden Globe. They play their part, and that’s it. The curtain falls, and it’s over. This quote reminds us that life is that way too. Most of us just go about our day, playing our part. And then it is over.
The quote also reminds us that this isn’t always the case. Some people manage to put a lot of excellence into their lives, regardless of length. And the quote also implies that there are plenty with very long lives, but with very little excellence.
A very long play, poorly acted, is a terrible thing to suffer. A much shorter play, excellently acted leaves you aching for more. But with life, it’s not an either-or proposition. We can be both excellent, and lead a long life, even though we only have control over one of those things.
Why is having excellence in your life important?
Without excellence, we have mediocrity. Or worse. That’s not the kind of life I want to live. Now what constitutes excellence will be a very personal decision. I know some people who make great quilts and afghans. They might even be excellent. But it’s not where I want to invest my time.
Instead, I fix cars, or at least try. To many people, that’s a complete waste of time. But it is something I enjoy and work hard to be good at. That’s just like plays or movies. Some like romances, others like action. Whatever you like, you want to watch one that is excellent, not just long.
We have no control over the length of our lives, but we can control how we manage what time we have. Excellence is always an option. We can work on something that makes a difference. We can work our way towards that which we feel is a worthy expression of excellence.
Where can I apply this in my life?
For those readers who are old enough, you may remember a young teen named Ryan White. Born a hemophiliac, he contracted HIV/AIDS from a blood transfusion and diagnosed in December of 1984. He helped raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, and that anyone can get it.
His excellence helped people understand that it was a disease everyone faced, and he helped improve the safety of our blood supply. In his short life, he helped save more lives than most doctors could dream of doing. His was, unfortunately, a short but excellent life.
What are the things you enjoy doing? What do you do well enough to if not be considered excellent at it, at least are close enough that you might be able to get there? Are there any things which are on both lists? You don’t have to be ready to change the world, just your self.
You don’t have to be ready to sign with a major label and go on tour if you wish to work on your singing voice. Some of the best voices I have known aren’t interested in that life. They just enjoy singing, and are very excellent at it. We were fortunate to get two of them to sing at our wedding, and they helped make an excellent day even better.
My skills as a mechanic will never amount to enough to get me a job in that field, but I enjoy it, and keep getting better and more skilled. I pursue excellence in something I like. What do you do, what do you enjoy, at what could you become excellent?
Do you have a hobby or even something at work you enjoy and could work at which you could become more skilled? What would that be like, to be considered excellent at something? Even if it was something trivial like fixing a broken stapler?
We all have skills and abilities, and we all have the ability to become excellent at something. But it will take effort and it will take time. If we don’t want to be excellent, it will be awfully hard to get there. However, sometimes fate conspires against us.
I seriously doubt Ryan White wanted to be excellent in the manner he did. However, he rose to the occasion, and lived a most excellent life. It is doubtful that any of us will end up with that level of excellence thrust on us, but it would be nice to think that we would be willing to rise to the occasion.
The play has already started. You have no idea when the final curtain will fall. All you can do is do your best, to strive for excellence, in each act, on each day, until it is over. Will you be remembered as having been excellent at something? I hope so. Even if it’s just by your closest friends.
From: Twitter, @philo_quotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/luciusanna138624.html
Photo from Leicestershire AIDS Support Services