If you like to dream of having the life of a millionaire, try this on for size. You have free reign of a whole nation. You are a prince or princess, and anything your mom or dad has or can do, is yours, too. Not only that, any friends you want to see, any place you want to travel — done. And everyone adores you. No problems except for two things. You are old enough for doctoral studies at a university and your mommy wants you to keep the castle as home base — no living in foreign cities. Oh, and the king is your stepfather and your uncle, which means that your father’s brother married your mom. You got all the other stuff, so that’s okay, right?
You guessed it. I’m talking about Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, in Shakespeare’s famous play. Why? Hamlet was extremely privileged and had a future, but he was also extremely depressed. His words and actions may be indicators for us, and they help me think about a question I consider from time to time.
Why do famous, wealthy, privileged people who seem to be living very professional, talented lives, with more going on for them than Hamlet, grow so unhappy they self-destruct? I remember the first time I ever heard of an event like this was when my mom told me that George Reeves, the television Superman, had committed suicide. I don’t remember how it even came up, but I wrestled with the whole concept. I knew Superman wasn’t real, but how could someone who everybody liked and recognized do something like that? Then, I heard about Judy Garland.
I now, however, have some ideas. Hamlet’s expression in Act 1, Scene 2, yields some insight: “O, that this too too solid flesh would melt, / Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew! / Or that the Everlasting had not fixed / His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God! God! / How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable / Seem to me all the uses of this world!”
Hamlet wants to die, to the point that he wishes it wasn’t a sin. Why? He now despises mommy and uncle, and his ego reasons him into his state of mind. Nothing’s right nor can it ever be right. He has no joy in life because he has no purpose and no relationship with his own heart. He’s tired and sees no benefit of anything. No matter what anyone brings up, he reasons it back to uselessness, futility. Ever feel like that? It’s Ego, not rationality, logic, or most importantly, Heart.
Many folks who appear to have the world by the balls have willingly subjected themselves to their own ego’s rationalizing — not rationality. They may have even at some point heard their hearts, come to know core Self, and engaged in a life purpose. However, if we do not walk in the fellowship of our heart, stay in touch with Heart, then the door to the ego default system swings wide open — unhappiness with life, uselessness of everything, no humor, no enthusiasm, no direction. No fulfillment, no significance means no reason to continue if the ego is given control. So, a George Reeves or a Judy Garland could be extremely talented, loved, and active, but when they give their egos dominance, all of that means nothing.
Folks didn’t know why Hamlet was so down. Everybody was guessing, except for one friend, and he had no idea how much Hamlet wanted to die. In Act III, Scene 1, Hamlet’s famous “To be, or not to be” soliloquy shows that tortured thinking: “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune…” and “…end / The heartache…” Later in the passage, he lists some of those heartaches. Bummer. He had no focus or life purpose.
When we lose all joy and interest in life, when we feel no purpose, and when we knowingly project a false façade, we need to recognize the ego problem and call out to our hearts. We need to get re-grounded in Heart truth, being conscious that life is right here, right now, and to regain our perspective and purpose.
What can I do at that specific time of such total dejection? The immediate answer is anything. Just take any step away from the voice of Ego to whom I have handed my authority. Mow the lawn, take out the garbage, empty the dishwasher, and then, tell yourself that you did something useful, sit down, and begin speaking to your heart.
If you know who you are as core Self, then listen closely because your heart will tell you what to do. I know whenever I get a little wobbly, I hear those words: “write, write, write. Why are you asking me?” Because ego can quickly confuse when we don’t stay close to heart.
Hey, if you can’t gain perspective, hear your heart, and find purpose and joy, get to a counselor, a therapist. Hamlet needed one, for sure. But for now, know that wild, self-destructive thoughts evolve from an unchecked ego feeding a mis-focused mind. Get re-grounded.
I would like to share a poem and some thoughts that I wrote five years ago, but they seem so appropriate, maybe helpful, because they are personal to me.
Sun begins to droop on this one hundred plus degree day with the
Four workmen banging, pounding, and screeching aluminum ladders
In their hurried finale for day’s end,
Punctuated by two insistent barking dogs, excited to protect me and gain my favor for their faithfulness.
Now evening --
Here, where encroaching darkness limits my ability to write,
Here, where a slight breeze grants refreshment,
Here, where cricket and cicada softly hum,
Here, where a few fireflies lazily blink,
Here, I remember them:
My dreams, my passions, and like them,
Here, I still am.
Questions and Thoughts
No matter what a day holds, I need to hold onto my dreams and my visions in order to maintain focus.
To what extent do I allow circumstance and busy-ness to rob me of my daily responsibility to visualize and search for or reflect on self?
Do I daily acknowledge my core self and take steps toward real expression of who I think I may be, even though I am not yet fully living in a continual, practical expression of it?
How fervently do I listen to and follow the whisperings of my heart to develop creative purpose?
Do I have a sense of exactly where I am in defining, identifying me?
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!