Monday, March 29, 2010

Read the best, then read the rest.

To be, or not to be--that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--
No more--and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep--
To sleep--perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprise of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action. -- Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia! -- Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.

- William Shakespeare, “Hamlet


To be or not to be is not the question, today.
One is, and cannot un-be. Unbecoming as that might sound.
One can do, or not do, but that which remains undone can lead to one's undoing.
There can often be quite the to-do about one's to-do list.
Who you be affects what you do;  what you do about it can be limited -- or can it be?
I tried to be, got a "B"; I could see that "C" was really a "D" for me. I said, "A!", but could never really make the grade. I sit in the hallway and wait for the bell to ring.
I see the genius that is Shakespeare, and loathe my generations who've squandered beauty for gadgetry and lubricants, discarding elevation in the name of equality, celebrating the mean.
Know what I mean by mean? I mean, 'mean' has many meanings. The average man can be mean, and he can do things that are mean, but this does not make him necessarily the mean of mean, or even mean to be mean, but it's close.
So, in closing, do we mean to do from being, or does our being inherently make us mean in our doing? Surely, most of us look for meaning, and mean to do well, but in the mean we all fall short. That's no mean trick - or is it?

Saturday, March 06, 2010


My apologies for not writing, sooner. I’ve been keeping my thoughts to myself, lately, for several reasons that I’m going to continue to keep to myself. Some of you are saying, “Thank you,” I’m sure.  I’ve also noticed a drop in postings from my regular haunts; I suspect that something’s in the air – or the water.

I had a quite bittersweet time, this last Tuesday afternoon. Roger Ebert is one of my heroes. If you watch movies, he is an inescapable force. If you appreciate great writing, his reviews and now, his blogging and online offerings are necessary. He continues to live an amazing life, and his writings reflect a mind cultivated by a wide world of experiences, transformed by extraordinary events. It’s difficult for me to write in the same ether.

Roger appeared on Oprah last week(I am going to assume that my European friends know who she is – if not, google away). If you don’t know, he has lost his jaw, along with his ability to eat and speak. Among other things, this appearance debuted a synthesized version of Roger’s voice, which no one had heard for quite some time. It was wonderful to see him, to see Chaz, and learn a little more about them both. I will confess I had tears in my eyes at the end.

That’s the sweet part. I had tears in my eyes before it started.

I get home about 10 minutes before Oprah comes on. I turned on the TV in the bedroom and began changing out of my uniform, ending that part of my day, getting ready to watch the show. It was then that the news came on that Chelsea King’s body had been found in a shallow grave. It was another instance of a community taking another punch in the gut, tenuous hopes giving way to grief. Grief and anger at the being (thankfully, in custody ONCE MORE) capable of such inhumanity. I did not know her, but our city was looking for her; she’d been a main focus of attention since her disappearance the Thursday before. Moments such as these should break every heart.

I’m presenting this to you, backward, because it’s really how I experienced it. I had been anticipating the “sweet” for days, the “bitter” was a 10-minute step into knee-deep sorrow, followed by the good feelings I’d been waiting for. Twenty minutes after that, I turned the TV off and sat on my bed in a moment of stunned silence at the breadth of human experience that I’d just witnessed. I didn’t dwell on it for long, there were things to do, and many of these thoughts are best dealt with alongside the grit and grime of the things we need to do. I’ll leave that thought there. 

Bittersweet. Exhibit 476-B, category – Humanity (apologies to Rod Serling)

Again, and as I put it here, I feel such a sense of mystery about what this is all about. Mystery that I should feel that need, that human need, to make it make sense. Can I accept that is not possible for “this” to reconcile?

Can’t dwell on this stuff too long. I won’t get anything done at all.