Monday, April 11, 2011

Shakespearean Counsel

I am braving a reading of Romeo and Juliet for the last text of the year with my students.  We will see if we survive (nothing like a little Elizabethan language in a room full of students for whom English is an additional language to learn already...).  However, as I'm digging through Shakespearean quotations in preparation for a writing assignment I'm designing, I realize that he may have said everything that needs to be said.

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" (Hamlet). 
I'd swear this is a favorite of therapists everywhere, and a statement that makes me want to scream, "Of course it's fucking bad!  I want to place some judgment on that action and I want to now!"  And, did I mention I've been playing with the idea of "anger" lately--whether or not it can be a productive feeling or not?  Anger is tricky for me:  1)  I don't really approve of it in general; I'd prefer to think I'm so above anger; 2) It sometimes sneaks up on me and says, "hey little girl, don't you want to try some anger?  I think you'll like it," and for a moment or two, I do.  I feel self-righteous; I feel like I'm on the right side of things, and then I realize that just like a cheeseburger (or a third glass of wine) it always makes me feel like crap afterwards.  BUT, this being said, I think anger can be productive.  It promotes taking action, taking a stand...and sometimes it's the only thing that can propel me forward and beyond the need for it.  I do think that most of us were taught from an early age that anger was simply a sign of weakness (and, for women, that it should not be directed at men, ugh.)  Anger is sometimes justified.  I'm not saying I want to live in a perpetual embrace with anger, but a quick kiss on the cheek and a wink can help me move past slights tossed my way.  I try not to say too much until anger has passed...when I'm not angry, I have an easier time taking the advice:  "While thou livest keep a good tongue in thy head."

"Love all, trust a few.  Do wrong to none"  (All's Well That Ends Well).
I was having a conversation earlier today with a dear friend I have known for more than half of my life.  We both agreed that it would be lovely to think that we had never done harm. (I cringed as I reflected on some ridiculous antics of my own that very definitely did not take anyone else's feelings into consideration...)   I think most of us grow through phases where we are totally self-centered and destructive.  As adults, it seems, we reserve most of our destructive tendencies for ourselves--in various forms:  self-loathing, addiction, refusal to wake up, refusal or inability to step forward without question when others are in need...I'm most scared of adults who, for whatever reason, don't grow through, and who refuse to see their actions for what they are.

However, I will continue to love all.  I will be a little more cautious regarding who I trust.
"The lady doth protest too much, methinks" (Hamlet). Yep.

"And since you know you cannot see yourself,
so well as by reflection, I, your glass,
will modestly discover to yourself,
that of yourself which you yet know not of"

It is my hope that we all have "mirrors" in which we can see reflected infinite possibility.  My "glass" thankfully is a multitude of amazing people who are very happy to hold themselves up to me and let me see what I would never have otherwise.

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