“This Strange, Eventful History”

I was a little kid when I was introduced to the “theater of life.” My dad sat on one end of the sofa with his big blue Collected Works of Shakespeare (that, decades later, my wolf dog destroyed when I was off on a trip to Italy; she hated it when I wasn’t around). He called me up next to him and put his arm around me and said, “This is the truth, MAK.” He began to read, “All the world’s a stage…” As far as I recall, he didn’t proclaim it; he just read. I didn’t understand much. There on the sofa, in an act from our own lives, we were a play within a play in the small theater of our living room, sitting on the rough, green upholstery of the sofa my grandparents had given us when they redecorated their house — or set.

My dad explained what he could but — at six years old — I didn’t have context for everything he told me. I have the context now and it really is an amazing piece of truth, this little speech.

I’ve been trying to figure out what’s wrong with me that I don’t want to go anywhere and don’t especially want to do anything. Shakespeare probably wrote about that, too, somewhere, though I have no knowledge of a play called Weltschmerz. I was planning to drive up to Colorado Springs, and all I could think was, “Yeah last time was great,” thinking of the injury to my shoulder and all the other things that ensued, half a day in urgent care, pain meds that caused projectile vomiting, all of the FUN I had last year, and another trip up there that resulted in a torn Achilles Tendon. I priced the cost of gas to get there — $120. Then my mind went to all the necessary things in my life that are now more expensive — mortgage payment, trash, utilities, Internet — everything has gone up in price this year eating away the COLA I got from both my retirement plan and Social Security. I’m not alone, I know. And I even understand WHY, but as life has taught me, understanding “why” isn’t always useful. I’m not whining — much. We’re all probably in this boat.

And the news keeps telling me about Kim Kardashian wearing Marilyn Monroe’s dress and Earth trash being left on Mars reminding me of a really handsome guy who attended the same weekly open drawing sessions — life drawing! — $5 and 3 hours with a model in a lovely small auditorium. The coffeehouse of which the auditorium was a part played an FM staton (it was the 70’s) as we drew. It was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful and if such a thing appeared here, right now I would shrug off my Weltschmerz and pay for gas. Garth — the handsome guy — was sitting behind me and my friend Wes. Anyway, invariably the news would come on (once an hour). One evening Garth, disturbed to have the music — and therefore drawing — flow interrupted, said, “That’s not MY news.” As I recall, he growled. 🙂

Speech: “All the world’s a stage”

BY William Shakespeare

(from As You Like It, spoken by Jaques)

                                        All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

The featured photo is from the same edition as my Dad’s Shakespeare. It had beautiful illustrations by Rockwell Kent

5 thoughts on ““This Strange, Eventful History”

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