As Shakespeare aptly proclaimed eons ago, the world is but a stage, and our lives are compelled to be played out on it. For me, life has become a grand theater of the Self, a fascinating arena for encountering the mystifying fact of our existence, and uncovering our true natures. It is a continually surprising encounter with psyche and the complex of "inner selves" or sub-personalities that comprise it. In short, experiencing life as a stage in the play of my soul's evolution has given me a viable context in which to meet my destiny.

When I remember to do so. Given "free choice," you and I can relate to this cosmic-yet-practical self discovery theater context in a number of ways. We can forget about or ignore it altogether, deny its importance or relevance, feign competence or incompetence, or embrace the challenge of being its director, writer or actors more or less as a full-time assignment. With varying results. We may turn in our resignations, time and time again, or enjoy the ride - particularly when the production and we are faring well. But one thing is certain: we cannot escape the play of our lives, nor the effects of how we participate in its unfolding.

The concept of "Theatre of the Self" per se took me by force last summer. It was as though all of the varied ways I have consciously or not-so-consciously explored self discovery intersected at once, creating a blazing point of awareness in my craw. There were all those lyrics and poems and comic and improvised characters from my show business days, revealing facets of my persona. There were a few scripts, and scores of routines and sketches telling stories that reflected my greater Story, and three book manuscripts detailing stages of the plot to gain soulful redemption.

Recontexting from hindsight, I see the plotlines from my life "pre show business." For example, I recall working for the Wichita Kansas Welfare department fresh out of college, B.A. clutched in my novice hands. There I encountered characters from an unreal, previously invisible world to my own, characters playing out my own pain through their particular struggles. I undertook to assimilate them into my own "reality."

In the last dozen years of my "post show biz" period, the heroine, me, acquired and amalgamated a tool for exploring consciousness developed by the Jungian analyst married team, Hal and Sidra Stone. I was thrilled with Voice Dialogue and the enormous access it gave me immediately to my inner cast of characters and their plots to run my life. Most of them were running my show behind the scenes of my official awareness. Over the years, developing my skills and creatively weaving into the Stone's early work other factors (my prolific show business background and penchant for drama, my writing and drawing skills, my love of animating everything from dreams to body parts and 'conditions,'), my own "character voice dialog" emerged.

Last summer, the Dialog process joined with my fervor for improvisational play and produced a format for teaching, playing, doing theatrical styled "recovery" work and developing "creative I.Q." - another term I coined to fill a previous void in our language. Just when I thought I saw how the next act was going to look in my career and financial subplots, I got another full on surprise, this time from a Master Trickster: Coyote.

I should explain that a shamanic medicine path called me in 1990, and I reluctantly succombed. Or, to describe it another way, I was Told I would be asked to take on the production, direction, play-writing and acting of my own Show of Life full time, no matter what. And to assist others. Mostly others not necessarily wanting assistance, either - at least not consciously. This was a blow to a woman driven somewhat to be a Star, rather than a shining light. A woman desperately seeking recognition, rather than giving it with heart.

I became a self-styled shaman, a shapeshifter, donning many disguises, playing many roles as I moved closer to defining my Heroine's role, her quest, her grail, her raison d'etre. Coyote moved in to whisper audibly in my ear last summer that S/He was now a primary script consultant -for the rest of my life. And that I could think of myself as a "shiftshaper" now: someone taking on the role of consciously dedicating herself to a "higher" form of the Calling to assist: by willing to be a lowly, underpaid, under-recognized "teacher and mentor.

-For the time being, and depending upon which of my burgeoning cast of inner selves was at the helm of my actor's ship. And, far more importantly, to assume the role of humble servant for my own, behind the scenes, not so visible awakening process.

Coyote suggested strongly that I rename my Theater of the Self, "Coyote Players," since my playshoppery ("Tao of Play" officially) is Trickster turf. What I didn't know at first was that I would be the one tricked, time and time again, as I tried to create "perfect" workshops. Or relationships. Or wisdom circles. Or housekeeping. Or garden. Or -anything. And that I would find that the best part of everything I undertake comes in through the cracks, the unexpected factors. That blessings, that wisdom, that love -can't ever be dictated or otherwise controlled...

There has been nothing left to hold onto of my treasured safety mechanisms. Time to accept what philosopher Alan Watts called, "the wisdom of insecurity." I like best to call it "trust" for the "play of the moment." Seizing the fullness of the moment in the grand theater of my life, the very play of Life itSelf. Great "medicine," great challenge for my vascillating consciousness. And the best Role I have ever been offered, ever accepted.

I am left to construct the unfolding, the writing, the directing and performing of my continually evolving story within the Story with as much care and daring as I may. And to be caught off guard, surprised, again and again at the unexpected Blessings contained within the enterprise.

In the Theater of the Self, of my wondrous, your wondrous, our collective wondrousness of Self. All the world's a stage -and a just a stage of Life and Its mystery. May you accept the task, and enjoy all it has to offer.

Let me know where you are Playing: I want to be there.