The Stone Theater of Roles
Don't forget to read the Introduction, Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV before this chapter of the Journey.
Personality. Culture. Situations. Even the tiniest grass leaf in the forest whispers every word you have taken with you through this adventure. Of course, there is the tribe right next to you. Walking by your side. You look at each other with trust and empathy. All of you have so much to offer, you are so different and yet you have discovered an invisible net that ties your souls in a common journey. You realize the journey is coming to an end, but somehow you also feel it is about to begin. There is so much to learn. The liberating sound of conscious breathing. This feels so much like home.
The She-Elf is out of sight. It is getting dark. You all feel the need to sleep. Close your eyes. There is nothing to fear. You are all protecting each other.
When you wake up, you can feel the coldness of the stone under your body. You get up quickly and look around. Rows of stone seats rise up in front of you. You are standing in the orchestra of an ancient greek theater. The view from your place is monumental and the old stone keeps its gaze at you defiant, as if it was time itself surrounding you. Four ancient theatrical masks seem as if they were expecting you in the middle of the stage.
“Welcome, my warriors”
You can hear her but the She-Elf remains hidden. The echo of her voice vibrates on the stone crescent magnificence.
“The last task of this journey requires your mutual collaboration, for there are no roles without audiences. This is probably the most demanding mission of this adventure.
There is a part of us that plays a role. Like an actress or actor, we have the ability to adapt our behavior in order to meet the expectations others have in a particular role. Each of you is a performer of several roles. You are fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, members of the tribe, employees or bosses. You all know exactly what is expected from you and most of the time, you are also very aware that you are breaking those expectations.
In front of you, there are different masks and each of them has its own expectations. These particular masks represent leadership and I will ask you to try them all. Once you wear them, you will feel how much the mask matches your personality and your cultural background, the further you are from the mask expectations, and the more it will hurt. Then, you will act as the mask expects you to in front of the audience. Remember you are not allowed to show any pain or else the mask will fall on the ground and disappear. If the audience notices you are not comfortable wearing that mask, it will also fall and disappear.
You need to make a decision then. I will grant you the possibility to take one as your final power. But understand this, my warrior. If the mask hurts you and you are able to perform in front of the audience without losing it, the mask may become a curse to you if your nature is too far from its expectations. The mask may also become a challenge for you if you willingly learn the new behavior and understand the difference between the role and your nature. So it will always be your decision to wear the mask and your responsibility to make it disappear. Never forget there might be someone in the audience that makes it fall as well”.
The masks begin to shine in the middle of the theater’s orchestra. The tribe stares at you on the stone seats, and you begin the performance.
The Lion Mask: you are expected to act dominant, decided and purposeful. You have to be open to taking risks and find new opportunities. You must be active and resolved. Be quick, be dominant, be strong. You are in control of the situation with practical thinking and action. Be challenging and direct with your opinions and ideas. Hide your emotions and prove you are fierce and demanding with yourself and others. Results before attention to detail or feelings. Do not let the weak interfere with achievements.
The Eagle Mask: you are expected to act disciplined, highly skilled and thorough. You have to pay attention to methods and improve them. Speak up about problems when they interfere with quality. Be reflective, do not make any decision before getting all the information that the solution requires. Be conscious about rules and explore the implications of decisions. Expect perfectionism, precise analysis and clarity from others. Emotions are an interference in the path of excellence. Block them. Results or feelings should never come before quality.
The Owl Mask: you are expected to be judicious, sensible, reliable and fair-minded. You must be supportive and patient with other people’s mistakes. Help others when they need extra time and provide them stability and clear rules to follow. You know everyone has their own difficulties and it is not fair to leave them behind. Be a good listener and facilitate dialogue when a misunderstanding is getting in the way of a peaceful environment. Provide a sense of stability and security for those around you. Taking care of emotions is equally important to results and quality. Getting things done should never override people’s feelings and comfort.
The Dog Mask: you are expected to be energizing, encouraging and enthusiastic. Be the provider of positivity and motivation to those around you. Remember that everyone is part of the adventure and acknowledge individual contributions to the benefit of the group. Let them know they are not alone. Build connections with people and allow them to act emotional. Encourage everyone to achieve their goals. Celebrate group victories and seek everyone’s potential. Be active, be adventurous, be inspiring. Friends and caring about people is already a success. Results or quality should never sweep people away.
The performance ends and you fall to your knees. You take off the last mask. You feel the pain on your face and body. You also feel relieved. The show has come to an end, and your audience was sincere about your acting. Exhaustion. Tears. Unexpected joy. Courage. Understanding.
The She-Elf appears on stage and puts a hand on your shoulder. There’s no need to speak anymore. You know the masks and you know yourself.
Which mask hurt you the most while wearing it?
Which mask would you like to learn to adapt to?
Which mask hurt you the least or did not hurt at all?
Do you think the audience noticed the pain when you were acting, or was your performance good enough to make them believe?
Choose the mask you want to take with you”.
Remember you can share your answers at the Tavern or send an email to the Elf-Guide. You can also write about your different roles and how you fit into the expectations different audiences have for you. Do you feel you can always be your true self? Do you think having roles is useful for society?
The tribe begins to smile again. So much to think about. The Elf-Guide walks towards you and points again to the horizon.
“It is time to prepare ourselves for the end of this adventure. We will find the bonfire again to see each other again before we part”.
You all walk together for a final gathering. Maybe you can hear the epic music around you as you leave the Stone Theater. - Probably “The show must go on” by Queen, or perhaps a less obvious song you can share with the tribe.
You keep humming the song as the stars rise above. The thick forest embraces you as you enter its majesty for the last time.