“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,
I love William Shakespeare.
The love I have for his work is thanks to two incredibly influential people in my life. Is there any greater gift than infusing a young person with a thirst for knowledge? A need to question? A quest to live a life less ordinary?
There’s Mr. Kaufman, my high school English teacher. What a English teacher he was. His students adored him. He lit us on fire with the possibilities of the written word. Patient, funny and kind. He infused life into what could have been boring and uninspiring. How we had fun with cryptograms! And when we were reading William Faulkner he gave us all ‘southern’ names. Cathy became ‘Catherine Ann’, Pam became ‘Miss Pamela’ and Jim became ‘James Robert’. When we read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle about the stockyards in Chicago, he talked to us in a ‘Chicago’ accent. He pushed us to explore and experience the world beyond our high school.
He brought Shakespeare to life by reading it to us; helping us get through the language, understand cadence — and sticking with it until suddenly I was not thinking about how long ago this play was written. I came to appreciate and LOVE the exquisite writing – and the emotions and story lines.
And then there’s another lover of Shakespeare, who has been a huge influence in my life.
My sister told me yesterday that my 90+ year old Dad has asked if she could get him a copy of all of Shakespeare’s work. He wants to read it from cover to cover. And I realized how much I love my Dad for always being a big supporter of creativity, enriching our minds with music and the arts.
So thank you to my Dad, thank you to Mr. Kaufman, and thank you to William Shakespeare for helping me find myself on this journey through life. Each of you in your own way pushed me to choose ‘the road not taken‘ (Robert Frost) most of my life. Oh my how I did stumble, trip and fall at some of my choices. But here I am still standing – sober even — and finding sustenance in music and words.
P.S. Did you realize how many of Shakespeare quotes have worked their way into the english language? Check out the Rob Brydon’s video “You’re quoting Shakespeare”