Do not look upon me, Lest with this piteous action you convert My stern effects.

Is Hamlet’s father’s ghost looking at his son with love? Is that what his piteous action is? Is it compassion? Is it regret?
Whatever it is, it touches Hamlet in such a way that he fears he’ll lose his edge.
But why does he need his edge right now? He’s with his mother and the ghost of his father. Can he not let himself soften a bit with the two people who made him? Apparently not.
And it is, sometimes, funny how children steel themselves to be with their parents. There is a stiffening of the body, a contracting of the muscles, a holding tightly to one’s self that can happen – especially with adult children. Whatever self we form, whatever patterns we have, they kick into overdrive with the family of origin.

I write this on the week of Thanksgiving and I expect my Feldenkrais clients to increase significantly due to the all the ways they go home and deal with family.
I’ll see stiff necks and aching shoulders. I’ll see immobile pelvises and aching ankles. I wonder if we all have a little Hamlet in us that doesn’t want our parents to convert our “stern effects” – that is, we don’t want to be shaken from the selves we’ve tried so hard to cultivate since we left home.

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