Sunday, October 21, 2007

Outrageous Fortune

When my father first bought me Hamlet, he told me pointedly that I should memorize several of the soliloquies (Hamlet's, Polonious', etc.). No phrase seemed more vivid to me at 11 than "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" and I return to it whenever I feel a rain of mishaps.

Imagine it. You're at the Battle of Hastings. Hundreds of arrows and slings cast into the air, they arch up until gravity exerts its pull, then turn downward, bound straight for you. You crouch and hold up your shield and hope to heaven that it is sturdy enough to protect you, so you can arise, run and attack the cursed Normans.

Misfortune doesn't seem to come unaccompanied. Not devastation, misfortune. Scraping my car while parking (and cracking the glass of the headlight), not being told one has cancer.

It falls like a fall shower, out of nowhere, with wind. You might get wet, lose you hat, get hit by a flying branch. Like Friday. (Fall comes late to Washington.)

You lose your peppy stride. You wonder what your next slip will be. You go lead a support group meeting and you nearly kill yourself and your passenger not once but three times. Because you just can't pay attention.

You're unshaven because you've had an office emergency and volunteer teaching and now this. You've had coffee but it was weak and you've never woken up.

You get home and resolve not to darken your doorway on the way out ever again! No socializing. No driving. No activity that requires good reflexes, self-control, patience, sanity.

That's when you know you've been hit by "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."
Post a Comment