It is so interesting that around the world, people say good night to each other…for ages I’m guessing. Probably since we had language. It feels so fundamental the wish for a good night. We carry, perhaps the fear of what the night will bring or what dreams will come or the obliterating quality of sleep. Perhaps we evolved language simply to assure each other that we would be alright, that we could sleep, that we would wake up safe or wake up at all. Of course we wish one another good morning and good afternoon and good day as well – but it is the night that is most potent, most poignant.
Perhaps that’s why we have lullabies. I just wrote one today in honor of the families separated at the border. Here it is on my website:
I am rich in sweet ladies. I have sweet ladies in my family and so many sweet lady friends. So many of my sweet lady friends live for away. They are scattered around the country and around the world. This means that almost everywhere I go, I’m never too far from a sweet lady friend. And it also means that I miss them terribly.
I cannot see or hear these words without instantly getting the song from the Music Man in my head. I think I’d have to do some pretty serious work to find another rhythm – or way to say it without INSTANTLY following it up with “Farewell Ladies. We’re going to leave you now.”
Or maybe what the world needs is a Hamlet/Music Man mash up.
In a really literal and contemporary production, they’d give Ophelia a Coach handbag that she’d then pick up and swan her way out with. She’d be like a Danish Paris Hilton, swanning around in designer couture with bags and bags.
I hope to never see this production.
What if Ophelia didn’t die and had the opportunity to grow up to be Queen? What if she’d had the chance to shake off her obedient girlhood and take on some authority! She might really have amounted to something. She’s got a little hint of it here – an ability, even in her madness, to allude to a little trick of language – a counselor being her father’s position in the court – so by thanking Claudius for his good counsel, she is also thanking him for her father. It has a gentle imperiousness that I admire. It’s like a way to dismiss someone without them knowing they’ve been dismissed.
I wish Ophelia had had an opportunity to grow up into a queen. I’d relish a spinoff play wherein Ophelia doesn’t drown herself in a brook but runs away to a neighboring kingdom and gets herself set up as its queen. She avoids ALL the tragedy, grows up, gets a spine and watches it all as a ghost from a far.
I wonder what my life would have been like with a big brother. To have someone to go to, who would leap to my defense when I was attacked. My little brother did this for me once, when he was very young and it astonished me. I had no real experience of being defended before. I just expected I would always have to be on the defense myself.
I am partnered with a man who is a big brother to 2 siblings and his big brother game is strong. I can see it in his offers to punch people for me or go down there and see to that! And for some people, that’s a sort of old school man leaping to violence to defend his woman – but for me – it’s incredibly touching and makes me feel safe in a way I never did as a child. I don’t think my partner would ACTUALLY go to that guy’s office and tear his throat out but the offer, the suggestion, the feeling of that defense is a relief.
His big brother impulse can also come out in that teasing, taunting thing big brother’s can do. But I don’t find that amusing – not one bit – so he’s left that part by the wayside with me. Gratefully.
If Ophelia were my partner’s sister, he’d be better than Laertes in that he’d be primarily concerned about his sister before he went about knocking heads.
There is something about the ground. Even when you know the body is all that is left. Even if you saw the body emptied of life, of spirit, of soul, of breath. Even if all that is left are some ashes in a box. It is still a powerful ritual to see that box placed in the earth and covered over. It may trigger tears when no other stage could evoke them. The ritual, so ancient, so primal, so final. We cannot choose but weep.
We must. Indeed be patient. We must. It is the only real option. If one wonders whether or not to be patient – probably one should be. Even if you are anxious for change. Even if you feel you cannot wait any longer – patience is very useful – even as you tap your foot – or twist your hair.
I mean – it’s a tough one in the middle of social upheaval. Right now police violence against black men and women and children is rising every day and every day becomes more abhorrent. I know people have said to the activists battling this issue “Be patient” and in that context, it’s just another way to say. “Sit down, shut up.” It’s just another way to say, “Be okay with it.” But is there a way to work for justice and also have patience? That is – to BE patient, one understands that change takes time and will not be easy or efficient and yet tirelessly work for it anyway. It would be a sort of split focus – a way to work toward some thing with all the energy and force of will necessary for it and at the same time, cultivate a sense of inner peace.
Rosa Parks is famous for keeping her seat on the bus. Every school child in America knows she said “No” when asked to move. But what every school child DOESN’T know is how tirelessly she’d been working for the movement for so long. They don’t know how patient she had been and continued to be once the bus boycott began. They don’t know how tirelessly the entire movement worked, slowly, tediously, filing paperwork, waiting for the right moment – the wheels for the Montgomery Bus Boycott were in motion long before Rosa Parks said No on the bus. The movement had been waiting for the perfect model, the perfect representative of the movement, for the perfect movement to challenge. THAT is patience. Not sitting back and waiting for someone else to solve it but patiently inching forward every day.
We do hope all will be well. Even though the odds are that all will not be well. It is a particularly poignant human reality that it can never be fully all well. There will always be death, if nothing else. If we eliminated war and violence and discrimination of all kinds –if we cured all diseases and helped everyone become the most psychologically healthy they could be – there would still be the loss at the end. There is always pain. There is always challenge. It is never Happy Ever After. But we somehow are able to dream that it will end happily, that all be well. It is a beautiful hope. I also hope all will be well but I know that that well will include all sorts of things that will not be well. Not at all. But…the hoping is what keeps us well. The hoping all will be well helps maintain our wellness.
Oh this is just so convenient, this reasoning.
Dude says, “Oh yes, I will marry you. Just come to my bed. Come to my bed and I’ll marry you, baby. I really want to marry you so come to my bed so I can marry you.”
And then she comes to his bed and he’s like, “Psyche! That was a trick. I totally would have married you if you hadn’t done what I persuaded you to do. So it’s your fault.”
I’m pretty sure this is a flavor of gaslighting. And so a shitty person blames his victim for his shitty behavior. Because it’s her fault she came to his bed. Because she believed him when he said he’d marry her once he’d slept with her. And then instead of saying, “Psyche! I just told you I’d marry you to get you into bed – “ He says, “I WOULD have married you if you had refused me.” Which, come on, let’s face it – a jerk like that? He was definitely not going to do. And this girl’s lucky, actually, that she doesn’t have to be shackled to such a reprehensible asshole.
So – winner?