To Do Or Not To Do, Shakespeare And Suicidal Ideation
“To be, or not to be, that is the question” – the famous opening phrase of Hamlet’s soliloquy [Act 3, Scene 1]. Hamlet ponders whether it’s “nobler” to suffer the “outrageous fortune” he has been dealt, or “to die, to sleep”, in other words, take his own life.
Psychobabble tangent coming up in 3, 2, 1…
Interestingly (probably just to me), this soliloquy also may be one of the earlier literary expressions of suicidal ideation, a symptom of clinical depression. Alternatively, some suggested that obvious visual hallucinations (seeing his father’s ghost) point to schizophrenia, while others (incorrectly) diagnosed bipolar disorder given his extreme mood swings.
To be, or not to be… I haven’t really asked myself that question.
Meanwhile, others have extensively pondered the questions and meaning of existence, and even found foolproof means of doing so… Exhibit A – photo I took of the sign on the door of my yoga studio… 🙂
Now I haven’t asked myself that question, not because it’s not important, but because to me the answer is obvious. Of course, to be!!! Life sucks sometimes, but it’s also all kinds of awesome, and on most days, I am perfectly content to “bear the Whips and Scorns of time” and “to grunt and sweat under a weary life”. [Most days include sweat, and some days include more grunting than others.]
For me, more often, “to do, or not to do, that is the question”. In all honesty, in my case it’s hardly even a question, because my answer is usually “yes”. Few years ago, I identified my life motto as “try anything once, and more than once if I like it”, and I still follow that pretty closely.
What is the next self-experiment? Yet another training regime, yet another race, yet another new sport to try, yet another crazy recipe in the kitchen.
As a cerebral thinker, I like to do the research on the various things I undertake, and process my thoughts on paper. So, as a way for others to benefit from this process as well, I am launching “to do or not to do” series. I will do the homework, and explore the pros and cons of various activities, sports, exercise regimens, styles of eating, etc. You decide… to do or not to do…
You may expect my report on whether “to CrossFit or not to CrossFit” soon as I wrap up my thoughts after a full month of doing CrossFit workouts three times a week. Other pearls in the making include “to paleo or not to paleo”, “to run or not to run”, “to meditate or not to meditate” and many others.
Now, for those unfamiliar with the classic, enjoy:
“To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes Calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time, The Oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s Contumely,
The pangs of despised Love, the Law’s delay,
The insolence of Office, and the Spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his Quietus make
With a bare Bodkin? Who would Fardels bear, To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn
No Traveller returns, Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all,
And thus the Native hue of Resolution
Is sicklied o’er, with the pale cast of Thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment,
With this regard their Currents turn awry,
And lose the name of Action. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia? Nymph, in thy Orisons
Be all my sins remembered.
*Teachable moment –> I learned the difference between soliloquy and monologue today.
Soliloquy = character talks to himself/herself, revealing thoughts without addressing a listener.
Monologue = long speech by one character towards the audience.