Thursday, December 17, 2009

To sleep, perchance to dream

When I was an undergraduate, I was an English major. I wasn't a distinguished English major, as I did not embrace a lot of the writing which we studied, as I found it less than profound or beautiful or moving or relevant or any one of a number of things, including that I just didn't like what I read.

Shakespeare was the most challenging, as I had to read his entire works in a semester along with my other coursework. Mind you, this was before video/dvd availability of the works, so the only recourse I had to supplement what I was reading was 33 1/3 rpm recordings of the plays. I heard and read so much Shakespeare during that 12 weeks that I started to speak oddly.

Much of Shakespeare is a blur. I am uncertain how he could have written so much in his life as I had enough difficulty reading it all; I do suspect that he may have been bipolar and spent much time in a manic phase where he could accomplish so much. I do know that there is some discussion that Shakespeare was really a group of individuals--as a mom who works and is going to grad school, I know that it would not have been impossible for one individual to do that much work in so little time.

But I digress. During the time I was in the course, I was having a rough time, working two jobs and going to school, every spare moment spent in coursework. I was struck by the character of Caliban, who was described as a "freckled monster," but who was the only human inhabitant of an island. In the play, Caliban said:

Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.

I thought that summed up so much of what we all have felt at one time or another.

I went to a hospice workshop on grief on Sunday--the topic was getting through the holidays. Not enjoying them, just getting through them. And since then, I have slept deeply and well each night, fully giving myself to the process, resting in the fullest sense of the word. I haven't slept like this in three or four years now, and I feel like Caliban--I have waked after a long sleep, and yet I can sleep again. However, I don't need to dream, as the reality of this peace is riches enough right now.

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