How Will COVID Change Us? I Hope We Remember That the Arts Sustained Us

There’s no question that we’re going to be changed by this COVID pandemic. You can’t go through something like this and not be altered in some way. Sadly, some of us will lose a friend or loved one to the virus. Some will have had a major life event (perhaps a wedding or graduation) cancelled or postponed indefinitely. Millions will lose their livelihoods. Savings will be eviscerated. We will all suffer hardship to a greater or lesser degree.

Some self-reflection may come out if it as well. Maybe we’ll discover a resilience in ourselves that we didn’t realize we had. Maybe we’ll find out that we actually enjoyed our solitude more than we would have thought. (Or maybe we’ll realize that we hated it more than we would have expected.)

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Sonnet XXIX

These past two weeks I’ve been witness to a few of the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to (as Hamlet lamented), and not any soliloquy-worthy tragically-romantic shocks of the flesh either. I mean the more mundane, microbial, viral- and secondary-infection kind: those that require emergency visits to health care providers and multiple prescriptions and boxes and boxes of tissue.

So all I can do this week is to share one of my favorite of Shakespeare’s sonnets. It’s about feeling miserable and sorry for oneself, and then getting a bit of perspective on the situation. I leave it as a sort of offering to the Gods in the hopes that they’ll allow me to be recovered enough to write next week.

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Much Ado About Learning

This year I’m participating in the Shakespeare 2020 Project, wherein members are challenged to read Shakespeare’s entire canon in one year. All 37 plays, 154 sonnets, plus poems, books and even a few things that he may not have actually written. So far, it’s going pretty well, but it’s early days yet.

Part of the fun of this experience (adventure?) (boondoggle?) is the distraction of discovering so many Shakespeare-related resources, recordings, productions, quotes, household products, t-shirts, and of course memes.

One quote in particular has stuck with me:

Compulsory Shakespeare gives a student as much love for literature as compulsory chapel gives them reverence for religion.

Isn’t that the truth.

In fact, when I mentioned to one of my friends that I would be spending (wasting?) (investing?) my entire year reading Shakespeare and that she might want to join me, she answered with an emphatic no! and went on to explain that she had been forced to study Shakespeare in high school and that it was such a bad experience — and it had made her feel like such a failure — that she has not and will never read anything he’d written ever again. Certainly, it’s fair to say, no love of literature was created there.

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