We all take on different roles — whether as a parent, a husband, a wife; of assuming the role each day of a supervisor, a worker, a doctor, lawyer, etc. The underlying “substratum” of the “I” is presumed to remain the same throughout, but there may be a difference in the character posed, the personality posited or the tone, tonality and tenor of a voice, inflection, the way you talk, etc.
Perhaps, on a “Take your child to work day” you bring along your son or daughter and he or she watches you work in a particular role. Afterwards, does the child think to himself — or express him or herself to you or some third person — and say: “Gee, Mom [or Dad] sure acts differently at the office.”
Actors and actresses take on a “double-role” of sorts, don’t they? They not only have to take on the role of a character, whether in a play or a part in a filmed venue, but moreover, to “become” someone other than the person Who I Am.
Is there a difference between “Assuming the role of an Accountant” and “Playing the role of an Accountant”? Certainly, the former must have some credentials — perhaps as a C.P.A. or some “financial consultant certificate”, or some degree in accounting — whereas the latter only has to “act like” he or she has merited such a status. And the clients who come to the former — they are presumably “real” people whose financial problems or quandaries are “real” as well, whereas in the “acting’ role, they are not real, per se, but are also assuming the role of a part for the sake of an audience.
In either and both cases — whether of being “real” or “acting” in a role — the person to whom one “returns to” is someone who is the substratum: For the child, it is “Mommy” or “Daddy”; for the spouse, it is the husband or wife who “went-to-work-and-is-now-home”; and for the life-long friend from childhood days, it may be “Oh, that’s Dan who works as such-and-such, but who is good ol’ Dan always and forever.” But whatever role one assumes in life, whenever he or she returns to that person “Who I am”, does he or she ever return as the same person, or is there always a slight difference?
For, whatever the experience encountered in the “role” one plays, doesn’t it always change the person such that the person to whom one returns to can never be quite the same as before?
That is what happens with the Federal or Postal employee who needs to file for FERS Disability Retirement benefits — Yes, the point of trying to overcome a medical condition is so that one can “return to who I am”; but in reality, that will never happen, precisely because the medical condition and the experience of enduring the medical condition has changed the person forever.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire