My mind has been overflowing with literary quotes these last few days. They float in at about 4:30 AM and don’t seem to float out. I can’t imagine why. Or can I? Here’s a small sampling…
“But man, proud man,
Dress’d in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d-
His glassy essence-like an angry ape
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As makes the angels weep; who, with our spleens, Would all themselves laugh mortal.”
—- Measure for Measure
Making the angels weep is a ‘trick’ played by a lot of us. I guess we’re all guilty at one time or another of doing the”angry ape” thing. It’s easy to fall in love with the little bit we know, be oblivious to the huge amount we don’t know and harangue whomever will listen about what’s wrong, how bad it’s going to get and why we know ever so much better than all those fools out there what to do about it – (even ‘tho we can’t say exactly what that is…)
I mean, we’re surrounded by fantastic tricksters dressed in “a little brief authority” doing their thing. It’s exhausting. But it can also be entertaining. And I’ll admit, sometimes it cracks me up…
But seriously, is that good enough? There are those people who point – and those people who act. Those people who berate and those people who inspire. Those who make waves and those who make a difference. Which – who – are we?
I guess that’s why I’ve been thinking…whatever happened to ” the man in the arena”? You remember Teddy Roosevelt’s wonderful words…
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs; who comes up short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings…who knows the great enthusiasms, great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
So in the end, what does count? Being “right” about how “wrong” it is? Winning an Oscar for our brilliant portrayal of “the angry ape?” In the end, what in the world do we stand for? In the end, what do we care so much about that we would risk everything for? Even looking foolish? Even losing? Even… failing?
It’s time to ask and answer those questions. Past time, actually.
Meanwhile, here’s one last 4:30 AM quote…
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.” MacBeth
We are so much better than that.
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