Today and today and today

I resonated with Macbeth from the time I first came across the play at my co-ed Quaker boarding school in the Cotswolds. My memories of Sibford are sharp only for the things that made an impact on me – good and bad. I don’t recall much of the teaching being that inspiring, aside from Music, Art and English. I guess Religious Instruction was okay too because it was the closest I got to philosophy at school. I was there from the age of 10 to 14. But in that time, despite the misery of sub-standard vegetarian food, lumpy mattresses and boys (I was never interested at that stage of my life), my future was undoubtedly inspired by the  three aforementioned subjects, at which I excelled. I was known for “sleepwalking” in the dorm with my sheet wrapped round me, spouting Lady Macbeth’s famous speech: Out damned spot; out I say!  The melodrama of it appealed to me more than the cerebral side of things. I was never destined to be an academic.

I soon gravitated towards Macbeth’s speech on the futility of the human condition. We had to learn it by heart in English class. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace…..  Oh how those words strike me even now! Perhaps it is the best known speech from Shakespeare, along with the one from As You Like It spoken by the sanguine Jacques:  All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players…. He then proceeds to “nail” the human condition in the seven stages of man, leaving us nodding sagely, though, as a young girl, with a deep sense of alarm. Is that what I have to look forward to: Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything? Both speeches  share cynicism, truth and wisdom in equal portions, depending on which way you look at them.

This brings me to the reason I am writing this. Life is brief, it is tomorrow and tomorrow, we do age and wither. And yet and yet… as a haiku about a drop of dew trembling on a blossom that I have now forgotten the rest of, ends. The “and yet”, is a reminder to live for today as if there is no tomorrow. Life is indeed a drama in seven acts, and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. We have mewled and puked and we will end up, if not sans eyes and teeth, nodding at the fire or rambling in our minds. Today, what is happening now; the restrictions we are all living under, whether we like it or not, are a sharp reminder that we are only able to live in the moments as they unfold. Thinking about life is a distraction from actually living it. It isn’t very long and yet it is an eternity… There is always much to gladden us.

As Feste the Jester sings in the finale of Twelfth Night, there will come a time when our play is done. But not yet, not yet…

A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that’s all one, our play is done,
 And we’ll strive to please you every day.