Whenever I’m feeling down, I turn to Shakespearean tragedy.
No, not really. But there is this great scene in Romeo & Juliet, in which Romeo, in the middle of a complete and utter shitstorm, having fallen in love with Juliet and married her, then killed her cousin and got himself sentenced to banishment before he was able to consummate the marriage, gets told my Friar Lawrence for being too whiny.
What, rouse thee, man! Thy Juliet is alive,
For whose dear sake thou wast but lately dead.
There art thou happy. Tybalt would kill thee,
But thou slewest Tybalt. There art thou happy too.
The law, that threat’ned death, becomes thy friend
And turns it to exile. There art thou happy.
A pack of blessings light upon thy back;
Happiness courts thee in her best array;
But, like a misbehaved and sullen wench,
Thou pout’st upon thy fortune and thy love.
Take heed, take heed, for such die miserable.
A good friend who’s currently fighting in Iraq asked me today how I’m doing. I said okay, which is my honest answer, and he asked me why I’m not excellent. He said that recently he decided that he wasn’t letting himself be excellent, but he made the decision to quit that, and now he is.
I told him I see how that would work under most circumstances, except the facts of my situation are so depressing that the only times I’m able to feel any happiness at all is when I completely ignore the Big Terrible Things going on in my life. He said that “big” is relative. And jump-started me with a Big Wonderful Thing that should make me happy: I am free.
Taking my friend’s and Friar Lawrence’s advice, I walked down to a nearby museum at lunch, lay down on a concrete balustrade in the sunshine, thought about all the “there art thou happy”s in my life, and thanked God for them one by one.
My friend was right. There are a lot of them. And today, I am struck by the mere fact that I’ve been blessed enough to be on this earth for 25 full years and have begun to start on a 26th. Most days this fact seems small. A burden some days, even. But not today. Today I took heed. Today I won’t die miserable.