I saw this article today, and thought I would very much like to see this – it looks like good casting.
My connection to Macbeth is more through my father than anything else. He was the son of a famous mother, and having lived under her shadow, and not accomplishing as much, or thinking that he hadn’t accomplished as much, was a constant source of frustration, bewilderment and regret for him.
As many of the cousins, who also recognized these similar feelings (that they hadn’t accomplished as much as their mother), and I have discussed, fame, notoriety or however you want to call it is as much hard work as it is being in the right place at the right time. My grandmother was handed an opportunity, which she made the most of, not so much by jabbing folks out of the way or running over others, as much as taking what was presented to her, and running as far as she could with it.
I drew up this little cartoon to make my point….we are all presented with “Excalibur” during our lives, and it’s up to us to take it and run with it the best we can. Sometimes that means just preserving the spirit of our parents, grandparents to the next generation; sometimes that means being more than you thought you could; sometimes that just means keeping the next generation sane. But whatever it is, the symbolism of the Lady of the Lake handing each and every one of us a challenge (presentation of Excalibur is the challenge with the symbol of Excalibur being a lucky charm), shouldn’t be dusted off as someone else’s responsibility or not meant for me (the “who me?” syndrome), or other brushed away notion.
So what does this have to do with Macbeth? Well, on the way home from the hospital to take my father home to die, he quoted the famous (probably one of Shakespeare’s most famous) soliloquy: (it also has more titles of novels from this passage than any other in the English language, not sure about all languages)
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
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 (Act 5, Scene 5)
OMG, my heart nearly broke right there in the car on the way home to take my father home to die. I knew he had regrets, but had no idea they were so deep, and yet I knew of the many opportunities he had been given in his life, but passed on them – either because he was made to feel they weren’t right or weren’t for him or wrong timing, etc. The naysayers can always come up with any reason not to grab Excalibur.
I tried to dissuade him, telling him he had managed to keep the dream alive for the next generation, but I’m not sure that helped. I think he still died regretting what he had done.
I think we all leave a bigger track than we imagine. Simply because we aren’t on the cover of the Times or the Journal or the this or that magazine or newspaper, we feel as though we may have done more.
Maybe this is one of the most endearing and hopeful of all human traits, that we always wished we could have done more to distinguish ourselves our family or that we wished we could have had more of an impact. We forget the day-to-day impact, and yet that is the longer, more steady and certainly more enduring impact that we can ever hope to have. It’s not glorious. It’s not glamorous. And it’s certainly not laudatorily recognized. But it is far more engrained on our decedents’ minds and in the trait of our families. It becomes the habit by which all decisions are made and followed.
I think we all have a bit of Macbeth’s regret, but to me the worse regret is never to have tried. I saw my dad live a slow death of I cudda been a contenda regret in that he knew he had opportunities but was persuaded out of them.
Take the sword. Take Excalibur. Take the challenge. Not only will you be better off for it, even if you fail, you will live a day-to-day agonizing life of unfulfillment, dissatisfaction and regret all your life.
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