One of William Shakespeare’s most famous quotes is from ‘As You Like It.’ The character of Jacques muses that;
‘All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.’
Jacques prolific speech reminds us that time is fleeting, and we are not long on this earth. Let’s take a closer look at those Seven Ages.
Jacques talks first of the dependent infant. At this stage, we rely on others to feed and bathe us. They protect us from danger and soothe us when we are sick. In infancy, we develop our personality. There will be cognitive, emotional and physical developments that we won’t remember. If you are parents to an infant, record these special times through photographs, video and in a journal. It’s magical to look back at those milestones, later in life.
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We are outside of our comfort zone for the first time. We go to school every day, and we make our first friends. We learn how to play team games, take part in spelling bees and dance and sing in plays. We still haven’t learnt self-discipline and often expect everything to go our way. We may also experience our first bullies. It is when we first compete and compare ourselves to others. But these years are made to be frivolous and fun and filled with joy.
We are heady, sinful and lustful. At this stage, we discover romantic love. There may be love letters and holidays; tears and tantrums. There will be heartache and happiness and excitement and expectation. We might turn a blind eye to bad behaviour because we want to be loved. We give all our time and self to our lover before we learn healthier ways. There will be pain and anger but also butterflies and belief. We may meet our true love quickly or have to wait some time. It is a time when we learn physical and emotional intimacy.
We have found our feet in life. We are fearless, brave and prepared to fight for our beliefs. We take more risks and reap more rewards. There may be disappointment and setbacks, but we bounce back quickly. We may search fame and recognition, no matter what the cost. At this stage, our reputation is more important to us than the feelings of others. We can be selfish, grandiose, and a little too cocky. But by our late twenties, we should have learnt kindness, acceptance and gratitude. We should make the most of our freedom and explore the world. We have youth and health on our side.
As we reach our forties, we can be grateful for wisdom and experience. We have faced rejection and got through the other side. We may have experienced the atrocities of war, prejudice and greed. We will have been through plenty of good and bad times. We should use our experience to help and influence others. In the work place, we could become a mentor. At home, we can teach our children how to be well rounded and grounded. We may have reached a cross-roads in life and need to reinvent ourselves. This is possible through a new career, new relationships and new hobbies. This is also a time to make positive changes in our life.
We are older now. Our health may have deteriorated, and our body starts to shrink. In his speech, Jacques muses on the negative side of old-age. We may feel the effects of age and feel like we don’t matter so much anymore. But in modern times, things have changed. We can take this time to travel again. We can maintain our fitness levels and take care of our health. Older age does not mean we must lose our value. Make sure you keep your mind active and keep up your hobbies.
Image source: Pixaby
This is a time of difficulty and pain. The last stage of life is when we worry about senility and oblivion. We may have parents with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It is the stage when our parents become the infant again. We find ourselves looking after them, much like they looked after us when we were small. It may be time to consider a Live In Care Company for our parents to help them through this stage. Care can provide an improved quality of life for those that find it difficult to look after themselves. It can also relieve the stresses that children of elderly parents face. Care can offer companionship and security and help with doctors and dentist appointments.
The Seven Ages of Man is both melancholy and bittersweet. It shows us how fleeting life can be. But it also shows us much we have experienced in our life. It’s a time for reflection, but also a time to be proud of a life well travelled and hopefully fulfilled.