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To be or not to be

Posted by ubpdqn on March 25, 2012

From Hamlet, Act 3 Scene 1:

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes Calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time,
The Oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s Contumely, [poor]
The pangs of despised Love, the Law’s delay, [disprized]
The insolence of Office, and the Spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his Quietus make
With a bare Bodkin? Who would Fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn
No Traveller returns, Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all,
And thus the Native hue of Resolution
Is sicklied o’er, with the pale cast of Thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment, [pith]
With this regard their Currents turn awry, [away]
And lose the name of Action. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia? Nymph, in thy Orisons
Be all my sins remembered

As a child I was resistant, if not actively in opposition, to any lessons related to Shakespeare.  I have, however, changed this stance (slowly) with time. Hamlet’s soliloquy (above) was  coming from my radio and it resonated with me. The contemplation of life and death and the exploration of this existential angst is always not far from the surface but was brought into greater focus this week.

It is often said we remember the dead as one dimensional caricatures.  A very important, inspirational person who had a formative influence on my life died this week.   This post is dedicated to her.  It may be distorted by grief  but it is sincere . She lived for her family. She lived the Golden Rule. At times of frustration, she found ways to negotiate through the difficulties. She never lost sight of the big picture.  To the outside world, she was a small, poor, unmarried and uneducated woman. To us (me), she was a living breathing Saint…and we did not deserve the love and kindness she poured upon us (me).

Her last days were unfortunately filled with pain and suffering…a journey that I am so extremely sorry I was of no help to her. She died on the small island of her birth surrounded by her family. She is at peace. She is without pain. She lives in our memory.

Αιωνια η μνημη Θεια Ντινα.


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