Monthly Archives: August 2013

Miss Independent

miss independent

Ne-yo loves Miss Independent; apparently I love her too. My damaged past has taught me a lesson or two concerning independence. For starters-I don’t mean to step on any toes-but I feel the only reason most men ask their wives to stay home, is so that they can control them. Some cite love and concern, but honestly, I feel there’s more to it than meets the eye. Again, I apologize if my opinion appears skewed. It’s just that the ‘culprits’ I know personally haven’t convinced me otherwise.

My dad for instance; when I was about nine, he asked mom to quit her job; he said he would take care of her. At first mom was reluctant; she wasn’t sure that was what she wanted…but dad could be charming at times; when he’s not fighting he could be really sweet. Mom fell for his charms; she went ahead to hand in her resignation letter.

I have reason to believe those few years she stayed out of work are her worst to date. It’s like by giving up her job, she had also given up her freedom. She was at dad’s mercy. He had the last say in everything, even when it came to basic necessities such as food. If she wanted anything, she would have to consult dad. She had willingly, handed him the reins of power…I don’t fault her really; she trusted him, but apparently he took her for granted.

If mom was alone, things would have been easier I know; but she had three little mouths to feed. Even with the struggle, she had to take care of us. I think it’s at that time when their run-ins intensified because mom wasn’t satisfied with the treatment dad was giving her, and dad wasn’t willing to make it better.

One night dad came home past midnight, drunk. He hadn’t been giving mom any money for replenishing our food supplies. We couldn’t sleep; it was difficult to fall asleep hungry. We stayed up; hoping dad would be kind enough to bring us some fast food. The minutes ticked away, and as the clock struck midnight, we knew this would be one of those nights we went to bed hungry.

Finally he came home, reeking of alcohol and roasted meat. Obviously he was full. Mom asked him why he was being so unfeeling. She was hurt. We hadn’t eaten, and dad was doing that on purpose, because he knew she didn’t have money at the time. Mockingly, he threw money on the table. He didn’t seem bothered by the dejected looks on our faces.

Mom snapped, “You’re giving me money? At this time? What do you want me to do with it? Slice it up in their plates and feed it to them or what?” She was hurt, angry, and frustrated. In his drunkenness dad snapped too and they started fighting. We went to bed ravenous with our eyes red and puffy from all the crying, and our hearts heavy.

The next morning mom used that same money to buy us breakfast. I watched miserably as she struggled to cater to our needs; it was just humiliating. She had to suck up to him so she could get money for whatever she needed. I noticed everytime she needed money, dad wouldn’t give it to her without a fight.

Mom got tired of the vicious cycle and she started looking for a job. But as it turned out, it wasn’t a very simple task. It took longer than she had anticipated and all the while she had to endure his torturous deeds. She contemplated leaving him, but then she figured if she left we would suffer the consequences because he was still the one paying our school fee. So she put up with him, with all the frustration.

Mom, determined to get her life back on track, started her own business with the little money she had been saving up. It was difficult because dad was against it, but she pressed on. It didn’t bring her enough income, so she closed up and continued looking for another job.

It wasn’t until mom found a job that I saw her truly happy. She had gone through so much humiliation; I always opt to block those memories out of my head because they’re just so many and extremely heartbreaking. Sometimes it’s just easier pretending it didn’t happen.

When she went back to work, her fights with dad reduced remarkably; she didn’t need anything from him. She was independent.

A few months ago he was asking her to quit her job; but this time, it was different. He asked her to quit her job so she could take care of him, so that she-in his own words-could serve him. I impenitently laughed in his face. “Seriously?” I asked, then I started laughing again. Honestly it wasn’t funny in a rib-tickling way, but I found it ludicrous. He was clearly offended-that’s what I was hoping to achieve (I hate myself for that, but it’s the least I could do to let him know what I felt. He rarely lets us speak our minds). I doubt mom would ever fall for that again. No one in their right mind would forget the humiliation she went through.

I learned that it doesn’t matter how much one’s partner has; if it’s not mine, then I’d rather do without it. There’s just something about having money that one has worked for; it’s liberating. I love miss independent; the freedom; the peace of mind…

Oh there’s something about

Kinda woman that can do for herself

I look at her and it makes me proud…

 

Damaged

depressed

Ever since I was seven, I’ve been watching my parents fight; I would wish it wasn’t that way but unfortunately it is. One thing I’ve gathered over the years is that parents should settle their ‘beef’ away from the children. If I’m anything to go by, parents should never fight in front of their kids. It’s just destructive; it messes a kid up on so many levels. That’s a vital lesson I’ve learned.

When I was nine-by then I had gotten used to seeing my parents fight; it felt normal- I got caught up in one of my parent’s wrangles. I don’t remember how it started, all I remember is finding myself in my parents’ bedroom; I had heard mom shouting. When I walked into their bedroom, I was horrified to find mom pinned down on the bed beneath dad. He was hurting her.

Instinctively, I rushed in and started pulling on dad’s pants. My hands were tiny at the time, so I just got hold of one leg. Furious, he kicked hard and I staggered a few steps back, falling on my bum. I don’t remember getting hurt; I was reeling from the shock of seeing mom calling for help. That was all my mind could register; mom needed help, and I couldn’t help. So together with my sisters, we started wailing, asking him to let her go.

I don’t remember how long he went on, or when he stopped. The next morning, I was still distraught from watching the scathing scene. I felt like a lifeless zombie as I walked on the school corridors. That day I talked to my class teacher about it. I just couldn’t take it anymore; I had to tell someone. I can’t quite remember what she told me but I remember feeling relieved.

Since then I have witnessed so many similar scenarios, but that one refused to go away completely. It torments me; I guess because it was the first time I saw mom so helpless.

Unconsciously, as I watched them over the years, I started building my defense; even when I didn’t jump in to help I’d start contemplating the best counter attack; if someone said something nasty, the best thing was to lash back. If someone hit, hitting back would happen almost naturally. It all happened in my head and as it turns out I’m really good at visualizing stuff; that’s how I learn most of the practical things.

When I learnt how to belly dance for instance, I just watched my big siz doing it, visualized it when I was in bed at night, the next morning when I got out of bed I just tried moving my hips and voilà, I was doing it like Shakira; it just took a little practice to smooth out the rough edges. That’s how it was as I watched mom and dad fight, hurling expletives at each other; it is those same obscenities I would hurl at other kids whenever I found myself in some altercation. Coming from a kid, the words were X-rated.

Naturally I have a quiet demeanor; most of my extended family only know my calm and composed side, because I always prefer to take the high road even when I feel they’re driving me nuts. The upside is I sleep comfortably at night, without any guilt troubling my conscience…and for that peace of mind, I always opt to walk away from heated scenes. It does get unbearable sometimes and inevitably I lush out, but nowadays such moments are rare.

The longest time I stayed home was after leaving high school. Normally I’d just be home for a few weeks on holidays but at that time, I didn’t have the option of taking a break from all the drama while away in boarding school; I hated life there but it did break the monotony of watching my parents fight. Watching them at it, tempers flaring, constantly brought back the violent side I had tried so hard to bury while in high school. Worse still, as I watched them go on and on about matters I wished they’d deal with out of my sight, I started building my defense again, countering them in my head.

At the time, mom’s regular run-ins with dad also made her snappy; her words were ever clipped and she just felt cold. I wrote a lot at that time, because I realized it felt therapeutic. Sometimes I would just cry it out. I grew tense from all the madness; I didn’t want to say/do anything I would regret, so I held it all in.

I fell into my first bout of depression at that time; I didn’t know what it was then. I just felt miserable; like life had lost its meaning. Everytime they started fighting I would get muscle spasms from all the anxiety. I ended up getting medical treatment for it, after developing an incessant headache and insomnia, which stayed with me for one and a half years.

After recovering, that’s when I realized I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore. If they decided to fight, I would just watch impassively. Going with barely any sleep for close to two years had taught me a tough lesson. I wasn’t going to live their life anymore. That was one of the toughest decision I’ve had to make in my life. I reset my thoughts and focused them on the positive things in my life, and to date, that’s how I deal with it.

My baby siz however, hasn’t mastered the strength to be indifferent; so everytime she hears people-even outsiders-talking with their voices raised, even when they’re not necessarily fighting, she stiffens with fear, her heartbeat rapid. If she’s asleep, she’ll suddenly wake with a violent jerk, perturbed by the noise. I sympathize with her a lot. I don’t like to hold my parents responsible for it, but as much as I hate to admit it, this could have been avoided.

I couldn’t do much to change that part of my life, but I know one thing for sure, I wouldn’t want my kids to go through that…no one should. Parents should remember kids rarely forget; they could block it out, but most of the time the memories haunt them into adulthood. It is damaging. I feel damaged.

I’ve grown up with so much violence around me, I’ve become naturally defensive. Even when I walk away, I do it consciously, fighting all the urge to lash out. Sometimes it is difficult to hold back, especially when it’s a recurrent issue; when one keeps pushing all the wrong buttons because they don’t see me snapping. In such instances I just let it out.

I hate it when I do it, but sometimes it’s just inevitable; one can only take so much. I wouldn’t want to subject anyone to the life I’ve lived, so every day I strive to find the peaceful way out when faced with a challenge. As it is, I feel damaged, but I already resolved to make different choices…to ‘make love’ not war.

My peace-deprived childhood makes me crave serenity so intensely; that’s my ray of hope; that after all, I won’t be extending the emotional turmoil from my past into my future, God willing.

 

Violent…Am I?

parent's fighting

Recently I read an article that highlighted tell-tale signs that one’s partner may have abusive tendencies:

a)      He or she was physically abused or psychologically abused as a child.

b)      He or she has previous involvement with domestic violence.

c)      He or she saw one parent beat or dominate the other

d)      He or she witnessed one or both of their parents abuse alcohol or drugs.

According to the article, it would appear I’m a violent person, but I’m I really? No.

On why I could be a teetotaller, a good friend Jowal posted a very insightful comment; he quoted a story about two brothers who turned out so different from watching their father abuse alcohol; one became a teetotaller because he didn’t want to be like the father whereas the other became an alcoholic, just like the father.  Basically, in life one can’t always choose what they go through, but one has the power to choose what path they take afterwards.

As a child, I was introverted, but I didn’t miss the chance to ‘dig my claws’ into anyone who crossed my path. Students knew I was a walking time bomb, even though I managed to hide behind a façade of equanimity; but I was fine, as long as no one tried to ‘detonate’ me. When I was far from my mom, where I knew she couldn’t intervene, I’d take matters into my own hands; standing up to anyone who dared offend me.

Sometimes I’m tempted to think my mom resulted to have us-my sisters and me- shipped away to boarding school to save us from the daily violent attacks dad put us through when he and alcohol became best buddies. The attacks weren’t really aimed at us, but somehow we got caught in between.

I remember one time, while away in boarding school, I got into a fight with a girl I shared a bunk bed with. It was late at night. The matron on duty came rushing to our dormitory when the other girls started screaming. By the time she walked in, some girls had managed to tear us apart. One big girl had pinned my arms behind my back. As I stood there panting heavily, I took a moment to access the damage I’d made; I realized my adversary had scratches on her face and somehow I’d ripped her night dress from the neckline downwards.

I couldn’t recall doing it; I had done it in a heated moment…incandescent with rage.

The matron matched us to the headmistress’ quarters, but as it was late she asked us to see her in her office early the next day. The following day, during our Friday assembly, we were paraded before the whole school, with the furious headmistress branding us the two bulls of the school. We spent the better part of that day carrying out our punishment.

I wasn’t one of those kids who picked fights with anyone for no apparent reason; whenever I got into fights it was to defend myself or people I loved. For instance, when I got into that fight, it was after stomaching prolonged tension inflicted on me by my bed mate, a girl others feared because no one understood her background.

When clearing from primary school, one of my friends, who was the school’s headgirl at the time signed my leavers book; she added a P/S, requesting me not to start the third world war. I laughed when I read it, but I wasn’t oblivious to what she meant.

When I joined high school, I didn’t like the school at first because my dad had forced me to go there. I spent the whole of my first year contemplating my transfer. My mom was behind me all the way. She didn’t want to see me suffer and she understood I wasn’t comfortable in that school. The situation was even worsened by the fact that I’d gotten off on the wrong foot with the school’s administration; I had my long hair relaxed, which was against school policy. I spent the first term in and out of the principal’s and the guidance counselor’s offices explaining why I wasn’t going to shave my hair as was the required punishment.

The other girls loved my hair; they sympathized with me. Slowly, I came out of the shell I’d retreated into and I realized the school wasn’t that bad. During that period, I also realized I didn’t want to retaliate. If anyone crossed my path I’d just ignore them. I realized it was easier to be indifferent towards them than get myself into more trouble with the administration. My conscience also felt light; I wasn’t tormented by the memory of hurtful stuff I’d said to someone during a heated argument. I enjoyed the tranquility.

The students I went to high school with never got to meet my wild, untamed side. I had realized violence didn’t solve anything; it just aggravated things.

It wasn’t easy to remain graceful under pressure, but I tried. When I went back home I would find myself in the all-too-familiar scene; dad driving everyone up the wall. I would sermon all my strength, restraining the anger burning inside me; sometimes it would work, but at other times I would succumb to my rage. I would speak my mind out; in most cases the words felt like dagger stabs to those on the receiving end; I just didn’t see the need to sugar-coat things.

I knew I had only said what needed to be said; nothing was untrue, but even so, I couldn’t stand the guilt of knowing I had intentionally/unintentionally hurt someone. I learnt to bite my tongue. It was a struggle bottling up all the emotions, which were a combustible mix of raw anger and frustration. I fell sick in the process from all the stress; but I never looked back. I pressed on, determined to change my violent ways. After a few years, I learned to control my temper.

I would attribute my violent outbursts to the fact that I was subjected to so much domestic violence, but I made a choice; to not be like my father. It was difficult, and still is; sometimes I run into people, who get my patience running awfully thin, but I have mastered the art of walking away; nevertheless, dad hasn’t changed; he’s actually more violent than ever, but watching him just strengthens my urge to be a better person. That’s a choice I made. Everyone has a choice to be what they want to be.

What do you seek? Perfection or Holiness?

holy

I was watching the breaking news on CNN, when my phone rang. I looked at the caller ID; it was my mom, and I immediately figured what she wanted to tell me.

“Have you heard?” She jumped straight to the point the minute I picked up, skipping all the usual pleasantries. “The Pope’s resigning!” Her voice was frantic.

“Yes, I have,” I replied nonchalantly. I was glad my voice didn’t betray me; I was in extreme panic mode, as I tried-with immense difficulty-to wrap my mind around the shocking announcement. I had figured it wouldn’t do any of us any good if I also let my anxiety take over. One anxious person was enough, so for sanity’s sake I chose to act calm. “They say it’s for health reasons,” I added.

“I don’t know what’s supposed to happen, this has never happened before.” She said, still anxious.

I didn’t know what to tell her; I was beside myself with anxiety and that was interfering with my reasoning. I took a while, dug deep into my heart then replied, “Relax mom, just believe it has happened that way because that is how God wills it. So everything will work out eventually. We just have to wait and see.”

To my relief, that eased her angst. We talked for a while before hanging up. As I sat there staring blankly at the TV screen, my mind drifted back to when I was small. I always felt the Pope was the holiest person on earth; subconsciously I likened him to Jesus, so I had this eerie thought that the world would come to an end the day he died.

Apparently, He-Pope John Paul II-died in 2005 and the earth’s still rotating on its axis, everything’s still intact; I was wrong, obviously. Nonetheless, that didn’t erase my earlier presumptions, that the Papal throne has a very sacred significance to it. Its first occupant was St. Peter (referred to by many as Simon), who was given the keys of the kingdom of Heaven by Jesus…(Matthew 16:18) and watching the process of electing a new Pope only confirmed what I already knew; it is an intricate process, with a divine touch.

I couldn’t understand how/why the Pope would resign from a post I always thought was a till-death-do-us-part thing. Was it even allowed? I had many thoughts running through my mind, and the more I thought about it the more I got nervous. The last Pope to resign was Gregory XII, in 1415, almost six hundred years ago, so who/what had inspired Pope Benedict XVI to make that surprising move? I imagined the Holy Pontiff was supposed to hold on to his post until he breathed his last. As far as I was concerned, it wasn’t normal.

I thought about what I had told my mom; if God didn’t want him to resign, he wouldn’t let him, so if it was happening, God really wanted it that way. I focused all my attention on those words, to calm any negative thoughts. The announcement was made on Monday, 11th February, and the lent season was starting 13th February, on Ash Wednesday, two days later.

Of all lent seasons, it’s during this year’s season that I feel I learnt a lot. I’ve learnt to look at things differently. Normally, those who know me think I’m a real optimist, but truth is my everyday life is a constant inward battle; I’m constantly trying to quell pessimistic thoughts which flow in my head, without me even trying.

The Pope had about two weeks before resigning on 28th that same month. I was waiting anxiously to see how things would unfold, as I had nothing to reference his resignation to. When the lent season started, I made a personal commitment to travel the way of the cross every Friday evening. Basically it entails retracing the final steps Jesus took before His crucifixion; it’s like a miniature pilgrimage to the actual places in Jerusalem. It was particularly the 13th station, which opened my eyes regarding the Pope’s resignation:

The Thirteenth Station: Jesus is taken down from the cross.

My Jesus, it was with deep grief that Mary finally took You in her arms and saw all the wounds sin had inflicted upon You. Mary Magdalene looked upon Your dead Body with horror. Nicodemus, the man so full of human respect, who came to You by night, suddenly received the courage to help Joseph take You down from the Cross.

You are once more surrounded by only a few followers. When loneliness and failure cross my path, let me think of this lonely moment and total failure-failure in the eyes of men. How wrong they were-how mistaken their concept of success! The greatest act of love was given in desolation and the most successful mission accomplished and finished when all seemed lost. Is this not true in my life, dear Jesus? I judge my failures harshly. I demand perfection instead of holiness. My idea of success is for all to end well-according to my liking.

As I read this prayer, the one thing that came to mind was the Pope’s resignation; how I’d felt he wasn’t doing the right thing by resigning. I realized sometimes God doesn’t intend for things to end the way we think they should.

That thought subsequently reminded me of the times I felt disappointed when things didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped they would. I realized that sometimes we achieve so much more when we feel like we’ve lost; sometimes there is success in failure.

For most people, success is measured in terms of how much/long one can endure a difficult situation; our pride makes us feel like giving up on a difficult task would be deemed a failure, so we keep tolerating things we don’t like, afraid that people will judge us. I learnt that so long as one is doing what’s right in the eyes of God, it is okay to  ‘call it quits’ sometimes. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, He only expects us to lead holy lives.

So instead of feeling like the Holy Pontiff had made a wrong move, I applauded his courage. He resigned when he knew people would judge him for it; he did something rare, but the thought that he said he was at peace with himself after seeking God’s guidance on the matter, made me feel it was okay too.

God doesn’t expect us to be perfect; He knows we’re only human.

Following Multitudes

making decisions

It was mid Sunday morning. My fellow students and I were sitted in church. We were listening to the Bishop giving his sermon. I don’t really recall what it was about, but I remember vividly that the particular day was a special one. The bishop rarely visited. So even as we sat, eyes glued to him, we felt special he had paid us a visit. Later, the father-in-charge informed us he and the bishop would be headed to town to hold another mass there for the rest of the town folks. There was a grand occasion, only I don’t remember what they were celebrating.

The father-in-charge, who every girl in my school adored, invited us to accompany him there. He said it would be worth our while. We were thrilled by the idea. We were always confined in the school compound. The only time one got to leave the school premises was when one was leaving for a medical check-up at the health center, which was located in the heart of the town, about five kilometers away from the school, or when leaving for symposiums,  game tournaments, drama competitions, music festivals, debates … in other schools, or just the usual trips.

The occasions were rare, so whenever the opportunity presented itself we would pounce on it unhesitatingly. When the father-in-charge invited us to attend the grand mass in town, we didn’t care to run the idea by the principal, who was also in attendance. Naturally, she was given the chance to give a vote of thanks as the mass was mainly for girls from my school. When she took to the lectern at the far end of the altar, she began her speech. “Your Lordship the Bishop, the father-in-charge…”

Basically, she told the bishop how honoured we felt that he had graced us with his presence…and in conclusion, she merely said it in passing that we were required to go back to school after mass; the church was only a stone-throw away from our school. That simple command put us in a quagmire; we wanted to go to town, had already been invited even, but the principal wouldn’t allow us.

After mass we dutifully walked back to school in a pensive mood. We had to go to town; if only we could convince the principal-a strict woman, who was zero-tolerant to crap. Instead of heading back to class for our thirty minutes preps before we went for lunch as was tradition, we assembled on the parade ground to device a way out of the conundrum we were in.

After a unanimous decision, we-a group of atleast three hundred girls-asked the headgirl and her deputy to see the principal at her quarters; ask her if she would be kind enough to let us attend the grand mass in town. The two left. We waited with baited breath, hoping she would consent to it.

About fifteen minutes later, the two came back, raw disappointment written on their faces. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to tell she had nixed them…or us for that matter.

The father-in-charge, the one person we thought was brave enough to cross the principal, had given us the green light. We banked on that. If the principal dared counter him, he would personally take up the matter with her; besides, we were too many to be punished…or so we thought.  After a relatively long deliberation, we made our decision. We were going to town. And since we didn’t have the principal’s blessings, we would walk all the way to town. It was a long walk, but for the sake of leaving the school compound even if only for a short while, we would trek.

The road was dusty, very dusty actually, because it hadn’t rained for a while and it was cold too. The clouds were grey; I thought it would rain, but as the minutes ticked away, the grey clouds scudded away, unveiling the azure sky. The sun came out in all its glory. When finally we got to town, the townsfolk had already gathered at the makeshift stadium. Beautiful gospel music was playing in the background, amplified by the speakers, which were placed at strategic locations.

Given the risk we had taken to leave the school compound against our principal’s orders, the mass wasn’t all that. Most of us had only taken it as an opportunity to indulge our cravings for junk food, touring the small town… it wasn’t really about the mass; we were only yearning to breathe some fresh air away from the school.

The function ended a few minutes to four. We started our long walk back to school under the scorching sun. When we got back, the few girls who had opted not to follow the multitude were still in class for the afternoon preps.

Sitted on my desk later that afternoon, the magnitude of what trouble I had gotten myself into hit me. I had willfully, against my better judgement, followed the multitude. Now that the party was over, I had to face whatever dire repercussions ensued.

I hated myself for my poor judgement.

I had always known following the masses rarely had happy endings, and I always avoided doing something because everyone else was doing it. This day however, I had let the thrill of getting out of the school compound derail me. In the heat of the moment, we had defied our principal, thinking we were too many to be punished. We had ruled out the idea of being punished because we had figured she wouldn’t have the guts or the energy to punish an entire school.

The next day, during our usual Monday morning assembly, the principal, wearing a stern face, instructed all the class prefects to forward the names of all the girls who had left the school premises the previous day. In our defence, we argued the father-in-charge had given us his consent; “But is he your principal?” She had countered vehemently. Blazing eyes darting across the assembly ground, she promised us a torturous week; one that would be ingrained in our memories for years to come.

True to her word, the ensuing week was everything she had promised it would be. Some months before, all the trees which outlined the school compound had been felled to pave way for the wire mesh fence, which was being erected. We spent the whole of that week moving enormous, moss covered logs from far corners of the school I didn’t even know existed, to some field adjacent to the school’s kitchen.

By the end of that week, my arms and legs were covered in bruises, where the logs had scraped against my bare skin. And the sight of the termites, which had started eating away at the logs just made me feel itchy.

Apparently she was right; my mind always goes back to that day. It’s been a few years since I left high school, but somehow, whenever I’m in a situation where I have to make my own independent decision or follow the multitude, I always opt for the former. I would rather be accountable for my own choices than get into trouble for getting swayed by other people’s opinion. That day always serves as a reminder.

I always think it was sod’s law, that the one day I chose to throw caution to the wind; the one day I went against my better judgement, to follow the multitude, was precisely the day I landed myself in unmitigated trouble.

All the World’s a stage

all the world's a stage

We were sitted in church one Friday evening. It was our usual Friday devotion session. Normally we would sing, learn new songs, read bible verses, then the teacher who headed our devotion session, and also doubled as my netball coach, would expound on the readings. This particular day however, he chose to do it differently. As he paced right-left-center at the area between the altar and the pews, he focused his teachings on one of William Shakespeare’s pieces-All the world’s a stage:

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.

Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel

And shinning 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 honor, 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 lined,

With eyes severe and beard of a formal cut,

Full of wise saws and modern instances;

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts into the lean and slippered pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;

His youthful hose well saved, 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.

I had never read the poem before, but as I listened to him talk about it so passionately-he also taught literature-I understood what he was driving at. His explanation was basic; a child is born, that’s when he enters the stage…he grows up, lives his life-good/bad-grows old, then he dies; that marks his inevitable exit. In his own words, “One only gets one chance to give a wonderful performance. When the curtains fall, the person exits and they never get a chance to redeem themselves. It’s only while on the stage that one can give the performance of their life.”

Referencing Shakespeare’s poem, he likened the world to a stage. Normally, when one gets on stage, it’s only protem, because either way they will have to exit. Such is life. When one gets off stage, they resume their normal life. He delved deeper; if the world is only a stage, what happens when one exits? Which is the real world? He was implying that this life we live is not permanent. We’re only here for a while, then after that we transit to the ‘real world’-eternity, that’s the real world, and we only get to live in eternal bliss or damnation for that matter depending on the performance we gave on stage.

Where we are now, we’re only here to play our cards, to determine where we end up, when we exit this stage-world-which apparently is inevitable. His words gave me so much to think about…