As a budding poet a couple of years ago, I joined a poetry-for-stage production company that created theatre experiences using poetry. On one of my first outings with the company, we were on stage having a dress rehearsal for a show the following day when the creative director turned and said to us, “I know this is a dress rehearsal, but do with so much passion as though this is the live show. Give it your best shot.”
That has been the attitude of our theatre production team ever since. You come to watch a rehearsal, and it gives you the same feeling you’d get if you were watching the live show.
There is no doubt that for centuries, mankind have been on a quest to know what truly this life is all about. Is this a test against the real thing – like some sort of dress rehearsal, or is this the real thing? From ancient philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, to modern thinkers and writers, existentialism has been the subject of discussion for centuries.
The popular opinion…
This discussion, in modern times, has been intensified by a popular quote that has been attributed to many different people, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” This statement has been the title of books, part of song lyrics, used in sermons, pasted on billboards, used as advertising campaigns. It’s everywhere, and for good reason too, being that it addresses people that are still waiting for life to happen, when life is already happening.
It’s a quote that says, enjoy life now, do you now. And I absolutely agree. We live in a world where people are so focused on mundane things, that they don’t realize that time is running, and running fast too. So they fail to live before they die.
When we were in Kindergarten, we were pretty much preoccupied with who laughed at us while we did our recital, who refused to share their toy, and who said they didn’t like our dress. We would cry when someone made a face at us, or when our parents wouldn’t let us watch our favorite show. Thinking about it now, we can laugh at those things, realizing how serious we were about very petty issues.
And while we can argue that that is all part of growing up, and it is, however, one would expect that as adults, we would know better and focus on more important things, but do we? Well, not when we’re trying our best to keep up with the Kardashians, flashing our new toys to show our friends how successful we’ve become, and how miserable they still are.
We get so busy moving up and down a seesaw that’s going nowhere, and by the time we close and open our eyes, we’re 80, and wondering where all the time went. Because the seconds trickle to minutes, and minutes to hours, to days to months to years, and these go by so fast. Whether we’re so busy pursuing wealth and power, and ignoring precious moments, and things with more eternal value, or we’re busy trying to sort out all our responsibilities and bills, that we forget to go after things that tug at the shirts of our heart, we never seem to learn.
In an interview with the oldest congregants in her church, a minister noted that what old people in their 90s regretted most had nothing to do with their careers, but more with their relationships and not taking enough risks.
So yes, in the sense that we only have one life to live on earth, and each moment passed is one that can never be recovered, then we can begin to see life not as a dress rehearsal to be taken lightly, but as a show where the curtains are open, the audience is seated, and the lights are on.
However, that is not the full story…
A Higher Call – The Rehearsal
While discussing with a friend, I said to her, “In a sense, life is a dress rehearsal.”
Obviously shocked, she quickly replied, “No, it’s not, life is LIVE.”
“Of course, I agree.” I said. “But just like a football training is a rehearsal for the main match, and at the same time, it is serious enough to determine who plays and who sits on the bench, so is life on earth.”
And that’s the whole point. Giving your life here your best shot while knowing that there’s more awaiting. Just like my poetry-for-stage company’s creative director had said during a dress rehearsal, “I know this is a dress rehearsal, but do with so much passion as though this is the live show. Give it your best shot.” It’s about making maximum use of the resources, relationships, time, and talents that God has so graciously deposited in every human, knowing fully well that at the end of life, there’s something more awaiting us, and that we’ll give an account of the life we lived on earth. The higher calling is treating life on earth as a temporary assignment.
Ancient philosophers such as Plato affirmed the soul’s continued life after the death of the body. Every major religion on earth believes there’s an afterlife. The argument now isn’t if there’s really an afterlife, but what kind of experience does an afterlife offer? Is it similar to what we have here on earth, or is it going to be completely different owing to the fact that the afterlife is a life experienced outside of time?
One thing is certain though, our life here on earth, determines what our lives outside of earth will look like. So the question is, “If you stand before God, and the movie of your life on earth is played, will it be worth watching?”