“I wish to be famous, rich, and powerful,” I protest.
“I need you to be an office-worker,” says God.
Reluctantly, I consent. As an office-worker, I must commute five days a week, unwatched by the public, undocumented by the media. Five days a week, I must step out the front door, walk to my car, turn the key in the ignition, back up, and drive to work. I must be an office-worker the way an office-worker would truly be – one who spends most of his day at his desk, answering calls, filing reports, who now and again delivers news to the CEO not by any virtue of his own, but as part of his job.
I return home to spend my evenings with my family, drained. My youngest child observes the world with wonder. Too young to harbor expectations, she enters every moment freshly, and in effect, teaches me that there are no small moments, only people who take their moments for granted.
“How do I take my child’s advice and live my life with wonder?” I ask my wife.
“Do something different, darling. You’ve always loved theater. They’re staging Macbeth this winter. Why don’t you audition for it?”
“I wish to be Macbeth,” I protest.
“I have a Macbeth,” replies the director. “I need a servant.”
Reluctantly, I consent. As a servant, I must deliver difficult news to the king in act five, unheeded by the audience. That is all I must do, nothing more. If I shine, overact, or stand out, I detract from my simple task and play my role poorly. I must be a servant the way a servant would truly be – a simple person, one who spends most of his day waiting at court, who now and again delivers news to his King not by any virtue of his own, but as part of his job.
“Someone must play Macbeth and someone must play the servant,” says my director. “There are no small parts, only small actors.”
How do I take my director’s advice and play an unglamorous part greatly?
My cue has been said. I enter stage-right, advance slowly towards Macbeth, and with my head bowed down, announce: “The queen… my lord… is dead.”
Silence seeps into the audience in the chilling interval before Macbeth’s response. The moment seems eternal. I am overcome by a violent perception. Who is the rich man that is satisfied with his lot? Those who are small desire to be big and those who are big desire to be bigger. Macbeth learns this the hard way, his every advancement rendering him more insatiable.
Stepping off stage suddenly seems invisibly meaningful, as does taking off my costume, removing my makeup, thanking the cast and director, and driving home. The invisibly meaningful feeling persists as I step out the front door the following morning, walk to my car, turn the key in the ignition, back up and drive to work. How rich is the man satisfied with his lot! He has learned to value the simple, unglamorous moments that comprise his life.
Benjamin Moore as Macbeth. Photo by Jonathan Beth