Don’t panic – even though Life is a four letter word and I empathize with Hamlet’s rant on the pain and unfairness of life (really and truly, 2020 has been nothing but a clusterfuck of mammoth proportions) I’m not ready to shuffle off my mortal coil – I’m grabbing a bag of popcorn and settling in to watch the rest of the circus.
For those not familiar with it (no judgment, but why aren’t you?) the soliloquy appears in Act 3, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Hamlet….What? You’re not familiar with the play? Oh em gee – why not? It has everything – fratricide, romance, suicide, ghosts, murder, swordplay – it even has an acting troupe!
Confession time – Hamlet was my introduction to Shakespeare – and while the rest of the class moaned and groaned, I sped through it and spent the rest of the semester working through the First Folio. Twelfth Night is definitely my favorite play, but Hamlet will always have a special place in my heart (you never forget your first). I know everyone raves about Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet, but I have to admit to being impressed with a pre-batshit Mel Gibson in the role, and You MUST see Benedict Cumberbatch (yes I am a Cumberbitch, why do you ask)..or there’s Tennant, or Simm or Scott…..
Where was I? Ah, The Soliloquy. Hamlet has a lot of monologues (seriously, the guy talks to himself ALL THE TIME, but so do I), but this is one of the most well-known. Time’s compilation of Shakespeare’s 15 most beloved quotes puts “To be or not to be” at the top of their list.
I would sum up our (his) story so far, but you need to read/see it for yourself. Let’s just say that the Prince of Denmark is having a shitty year (sound familiar? Seriously though – has anyone tried rebooting 2020?). He starts Act III by contemplating death and suicide. He wonders if death is nothing more than a never-ending sleep, and worries about “what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil.” He eventually decides that most people will choose “to be” because we are cowards or “dread of something after death.”
But I digress (damn you adult-onset ADHD!). As I said at the start of the post, I am not having a Hamlet moment. I am having a “what do I want to be when I grow up?” moment. First and foremost – who thought that being a grown up was a great idea? I mean, REALLY. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely more Peter Pan than Hamlet.
I’ve reached mid-life without deciding what I wanted to be. That’s a lie. I knew what I wanted to be, but then I changed my mind. I’ve been a lighting designer, an actress, a comedian, a massage therapist, a Medx tech, a waitress, a receptionist, a medical biller/collector/coder, a wife, a mother, a referee, a coach…..and now I’m teaching myself to be an artist (thank you Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain).
I’m more than halfway through life and I still don’t know what I want to be (maybe this quiz will help) – but as nasty as 2020 has been, I think we should take a moment and listen to Ralph Waldo Emerson.
So tell me – what do you want to be when you grow up?