All the world's a stage
And all the men and women merely players,
They have their exits and entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms,
Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
uwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth.And then the justice
In fair round belly, with good capon lin'd,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side,
His youthful hose well sav'd, a world too wide,
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again towards childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
How apposite William Shakespeare's words still are hundreds of years after he wrote them was brought home forceably to me by a recent meeting. This showed me in a particularly poignant way how vital it is for us all to live each stage of our life to the full and without fear. We need certain life experiences before we can progress from one stage to the next.
Recently my advice was sought by a gentleman of seventy-three who had never been married and was now anxiously seeking a long term partner.At our first meedint he led me into his sitiing room. This was an amazing sight! Every conceivable surface was covered by papers, sheet music, books, games, souvenirs, radios, cushions, pictures,childhood toys, too much furniture and an upright piano. I later established that there were three radios in this small area. One section of the room was used for storing cardboard boxes and plastic bags.
The childhood toys I felt were particularly inappropriate. One teddy bear was the same age as it's owner and a hideous knitted doll had been lovingly made by a favourite aunt.It seemed to me that most adult men would long since have carefully packed them away in storage or at least displayed them in a private area of the house.
"J" is a strict vegetarian and his description of his eating habits left me thinking that cheese (some of it extremely high in fat) was almost his sole source of protein. In addition he does not eat anything made of white flour or white sugar. Nor does he drink coffee. He does not frequent restaurants, even vegetarian ones. "J" eats all his meals with chop sticks.
Most things this gentleman buys must be available at half-price. At the time I visited At our firsthe had about a dozen yoghurts on the kitchen window sill, about fifteen cartons of fruit juice on the balcony and there was abundant food in the refrigerator and in the cupboards. It occured to me that he seemed to hoard food in the same way he hoards books and possessions from the past.
I asked to use the bathroom and was very surprised to se that a long table had been positioned parallel to the bath. There was just enough room between the end of this table and the toilet to be able to squeeze onto the toilet with legs in a side saddle position. On the table were placed a notebook and pen arranged so that they could be used by the person occupying the toilet, a telephone and a radio. Also in the bathroom were two holders for toilet tissue both of which held paper. A tape measure dangled from one of the holders.
In the bathroom on hooks behind the door a number of clothes were hanging. These included a pair of tatty tracksuit bottoms, a pair of jeans and long woolen underpants.When "J" left the house he habitually wore jeans and thick long woolen socks with strappy sandals made of canvas. This outfit was completed with a beige, thigh length gaberdine coat with a slit which came halfway up his back. He clearly had no concept or understanding of the importance of visual impressions in everyday life.
I asked "J" about his daily routine. He has none. He eats and sleeps when he feels like it. I noticed that he fell asleep unexpectedly at odd moments. The only event which seemed to be of paramount importance to him was listening to the local and international news on the radio.
We talked bout "J's" early childhood. He spoke with great love for his adored mother and aunt. I gained the impression that his father might have had certain difficulties with his sons's questioning attitude to life.
As far as I was able to establish "J" had had only one female relationship which had not lead to anything long-term.This had clearly been the source of much disappointment, upset and a failure of self-confidence. It seems that there have not been any relationships since then.
"J" seemed to have little understanding that adaptability, flexibility and reciprocity were essential in relationships. There was also no understanding that people do things that perhaps are not entirely to their taste if it gives the other party pleasure. When I asked how he would entertain a lady visitor there was no mention of dining out, joint sight seeing and getting to know one another. "J's" whole desire and plans for a long term relationship had evolved and been planned with apparently no deep thought or analysis of his possible future partners needs. Nor had he considered what he could offer a partner in a relationship.
"J" is a very sweet-natured, sensitive man who has very definite ideas on health and the spiritual life but who is personally very "unearthed" and finds it difficult to harmonize the energies of "heaven" and "earth. Forty years ago he travelled around the world and his views of the developing nations are sentimental and over-simplified.
"J" seems to have cataracts and a slight hearing problem. I also suspect that he has the beginnings of prostate trouble. He is an elderly seventy three and will probably need looking after in the very near future.
Sadly I came to the conclusion that he is highly unlikely to find a female life's companion. He has simply left it too late. He can no longer accomodate anyone new in his life.
So let us remember "all the world's a stage". We should be very careful no to miss our cues and we need to be ready and able to play a multitude of parts. Trying to play "the lover sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad mad to his mistress' eyebrow" at the stage of "his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, turning again towards childish treble, pipes and whistles in his sound" is likely to prove to be gross miscasting!
Dzagbe Cudjoe is a Dance Movement Therapist and ethnologist with wide experience of Dance in Africa and Europe. As an ethnologist her main field of research was into West African traditional religion. As a Dance Movement Therapist her area of specialization is working with children who have challenging behaviour or severe physical and intellectual Special Needs. Dzagbe is now working on helping the parents of such children to appreciate the healing effects of dance. She is the author of the e-manual "Dance to Health - Help Your Special Needs Child Through Inspirational Dance."available at For more Information visit Dance to Health