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How much “behavioral” training did you get as a child? And, if any, how was it applied? Did your trainer speak it to you…explained the course and reasons for the necessary behavior? Was his or her voice quiet and loving, or loud and impatient? Or was the trainer’s method of teaching conveyed mostly by body language? You know, a smack across the head, a grab and tossing of you, or a soft caress and sense of guidance and protection? We all went trained, somehow, in our lives, even if the training consisted of the world being the teacher, in which case, you would still be expected to give your best performance.

For the better part of my childhood, I was raised in a 2-parent household and grew up with six siblings. My mom was the disciplinarian and my dad the provider. He worked long hours every day, with only Sundays to rest, while mom reared us virtually round-the-clock and lived in unrest! My parents were the perfect example of passive-aggressive; dad was gentle, mom was harsh. Dad was patient and explained “life” to me; mom was frustrated and had nothing nice to say. Her method of training carried many tools: a leather belt for whipping us; a broomstick, when we hid the belt on her; her clawed and stiff hands; and a whole lot of mixed language to do her bidding in ill training.

I hold nothing against her now, some 45 years later. Her style of training taught me what to do and what not to do, how to behave and how not to behave, how to express myself and how not to express myself. Growing up under her leadership, there was no such thing as a youngster openly relaying thoughts, opinions, or statements that declared opposition to any of her beliefs. If you were sad, you caused it and got in trouble for whining; if you were happy, you got in trouble for being noisy; if you talked and she didn’t like what she was hearing, her method of training instilled in you utter silence! I grew up with a deep well of things to say and no outlet through which flow my diction forth. Her training led me to believe that neither I nor my “feelings” were of any importance, and that gist created in me shyness, self-rejection, and fear that other people thought or would think that I was stupid. My mother’s unpleasant training essentially though, sparked the writer in me, when my greatest passion in life is, to be able to help others, and to express myself in a way that allows me to “speak,” uninterrupted, which goes accommodated by the art of the written word and an audience of readers.

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.

I love that poem by Shakespeare, especially that part, for it is so true, that all the world’s a stage, all the men and women merely players, all have our exits and entrances, and each one in his and her time plays many parts.

All of us are on our own stage, and the world around us looks on to observe who we are and how we act and behave. We all hold expectations of each other and of ourselves, no matter how independent and set apart from the next fellowman we think we are. In looking at the world through the eyes of love, our tiniest expectation of another person still holds the visual of that other person being and treating us kindly, and when they don’t, we experience the whisper of disappointment, because we believed he or she was capable of much better behavior. But there is your stage, and the audience you notice awaits you and anticipates that you would give your best performance.

You know that if you perform poorly, you’ll be ducking from all the tomatoes the audience will be throwing at you! All the heckling they’ll spew at you would tarnish your chances of success, even further. They’ll be, casting you out, off that stage, and turning elsewhere for someone more polished to appease them. Although we come into this world naked and leave with nothing, we all come in with something and leave with substance. What’s your substance? What have you to offer while still on your stage? What did you do with your time on the earth? How did you use and spend your time? Did you raise yourself or were you reared by parents? Did you fake it till you’d make it, or did you give your best performance?

The opinions of others, at the end of the day, don’t count as much as does the opinion of yourself. My mother’s molding of me, and shaping of my character, and handling of my personhood cast me onto my stage, where there I would have to put my best foot forward, but also could undo myself of her ways, in favor of the redo of myself, my way. It is the, in-between section, of your entrance and your exit, that affords you the opportunities to give your best performance, not so to appease everyone, but to play your part to the best of the beauty that is in you. I told you, we all came into the world with something. Do you still have it, before you leave?

To mind comes all of life’s players who are artists, writers, musicians, dancers, or actors, performers, if you will, and who have over-worked to please their audiences, make a name for themselves, and hopefully be carried to the top of the charts by the fans they’ve built-up. And all of that is, all well and good, and helpful in some ways. But your “talent,” your special flair, your unique gift, whom is it for, you or them, and what is your purpose behind sharing it? If you pull it onto your stage, and it goes booed, stained by tomatoes, and thrown off, would you still return and give your best performance? Please say yes. But do it for you, more than for anyone else. Be the best you that you can be, whether observed or ignored, for true success then will shine on you and display to us how you give your best performance.