First off, Merry Christmas and/or Happy Chanuka.
Prompt for December 24: Ah ha: What deep thought struck you this year? How did it change you?
The Ah-ha moments in my life can usually be found captured in my Day-Timer. They are usually written in big letters on the right-hand side of the page, sometimes highlighted for emphasis. Two that I would bring to the table representing great moments of 2011, include quotes from Dietrich Bronhoffer and a line spoken by Lady MacBeth in “that Scottish Play“.
On February 4, while listening to the Writer’s Almanac on my ipod, I heard Garrison Keeler quote a section of Bronhoffer’s letters from prison where we wrote:
“We have learned, Erling, a bit too late in the day, that action springs not from thought, but in a readiness for responsibility”
That thought lit me up like a Christmas tree. Broadly speaking, there are so many things that need to be changed, from government, to work spaces, to financial, to relationships. It’s not in the realization that something needs to be done – it’s in the actual doing. That could mean starting a petition, writing a congressman or just sitting down with a colleague and having that courageous conversation. It sounds simple, but it explains why change just doesn’t happen. Someone has to be willing to take responsibility for making change happen. In some cases, that may take more than one person.
The next Ah-ha moment came in April when, I was watching the new Patrick Steward version of “That Scottish Play“. I was enjoying this new and slightly disturbing adaptation, when during Act II, Scene two, I heard Lady MacBeth recite a line that made me sit up, take pause and hit the rewind button several times:
How now, my lord! Why do you keep alone,
Of sorriest fancies your companions making,
Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
With them they think on? Things without all remedy
Should be without regard. What’s done is done.
The English major in me has been taught that one never looks at a quote from a play in a vacuum. One must consider the character that speaks the line, their motivations and intentions and then frame it in context of the material preceding and succeeding it. As I want this to be a max 700 word blog post and not a thesis, I am going to skip much of this and just tell you that at this point in the story, MacBeth has committed regicide and has just dispatched 3 men to start what will be a long line of murders. He is starting to lose it. Lady MacBeth seeing her husband slipping into an emotional moat, tries to get him to “forgetaboutit” and move on.
The great works change as we get older. Romeo and Juliet is a different play as a parent than it is was as a teen-ager. King Lear is even more so poignant once one reaches a certain age AND has a daughter. I’ve seen “That Scottish Play” a dozen times in the last 30 years and never has this line stepped out an slapped me on the face the way it did in April.
Maybe it’s just that I was finally ready for those words to became salient, “Things without all remedy should be without regard. What’s done is done.” Stripped from all context of the play, the idea that I shouldn’t burden myself with those things that have been done but cannot be mended. Can’t fix it, Move on! Nothing to see here. To quote a Jewish lady from New York I once saw on TV, “MAKE PEACE WITH IT”! That doesn’t mean I forget the lessons, but certainly, if the emotional baggage doesn’t serve me, I should put it down and walk away. Ask God and the offended for forgiveness and move on.
So I guess, one ah-ha moment comes down to, “I gotta do footwork” and the other is “I have to be free from the baggage”. We can only hold-on to so much. We have two hands and sometimes we have to put down baggage to free up a hand to take up something better.
What are you find yourself holding onto this Christmas season? What thought keep you alone? What do you need to make peace with? Please share.