Let me borrow from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and quote Jacques’ famous phrase in Act-II, Scene-VII:
“All the world’s a stage,/ And all the men and women merely players.”
The past two years has allowed me to rekindle my love and passion for reading. I’d say I’ve devoured more novels, including graphic novels, in the past two years than I ever did eight years prior. This is largely because of some commitments and baggage I decided to let go of since two years ago, which freed up a lot of my time.
As with all novels, they all had a number of characters that play specific roles to drive the story to its predetermined ending. Among the contents that I’ve been reading are translated Chinese novels, where I encountered the term “cannon fodder”. The term by definition is associated with soldiers or combatants that are expendable. The term isn’t entirely new, but when used in a story where there aren’t any soldiers fighting a war was something new to me.
It somehow resonated with me, and made me realize that we are all cannon fodder in someone else’s story. All the world’s a stage and we’re all acting a specific role. But unlike the usual play or film or novel, we’re in a story within a story within another story that’s inside another story and it goes on infinitely.
The director, author, screenwriter, production staff, editor are all one entity, a higher being somewhere in the universe. Who’s probably watching the entire story unfold through an infinite number of stages and screens – omnipresent. Just imagine…we think that we’re acting out of our own free will but perhaps we’re all just following a script written and interwoven with so many others, entering and exiting the frame on cue.
Each of us acts as the lead, we are the protagonist, the title role in our own story and at the same time we are a piece, a bit, a walk-on, a side character, a cameo in someone else’s. Sometimes, we’re also given a role for one of the more commonly known archetypes – the nemesis, the BFF/sidekick, the mentor, the love interest, the other party, and the fool, just to name a few. We’ve all acted as cannon fodders, villager a, villager b to z, extra 1 to n. We’re all so versatile and we weren’t even aware of it.
I guess we can all take pride in the fact that we are all natural born actors. We drive our own stories and we also drive other people’s stories especially those closest to us. We exit the stage or leave the film set when we’ve acted out all our scenes and read all our lines. The curtain call is special though – it’s a single person curtain call. And depending on the number of times we played a side character, as well as the number of side characters who appeared in our story, the closing credits could go on for a while.