Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, scene I (1599)
Ah, even in the most grim and frightening of situations — such as staring down a venomous toad — we may just find beauty and wonder. We may indeed meet ourselves in the midst of a journey. We may find good, even within ourselves.
When I was in my thirties I used to have a recurring dream. In that dream, I would wake up snuggled in my adolescent bed, in the little house on Magnolia Street where I did my Freshman year homework; where I first experienced bouts of insomnia and spent the long quiet hours alone filling notebooks with poems and lengthy love letters to fictional characters. Each time I woke there with full awareness, fully prepared to change history, ready willing and able to keep a significant portion of my life from hurdling through hell in a hand basket.
Each time the dream ended the same — following some amazing feat of bending the past to my will, of finally achieving familial stability and heading steadfastly toward all the goals that got swept away by poverty and fear and terrible choices, a single thought would seep through and shatter my revelry … I would think of my husband. I would think of him and suddenly miss him so intensely, suddenly fear that my actions had irrevocably changed our paths. A smothering dread pushed me out of that dream every single time. I would wake up in the midst of a full panic attack that was always instantly cured when I realized he was right beside me, sleeping peacefully.
Intelligent as I am, it took a long time to understand the meaning of that dream.
It would be a lie to say that because I ended up with the guy, my life could be described as perfect. Adversity? Baby, please.
Adversity was a three-times-a-day meal for about a decade. And a half. And guess what? I have found books in running brooks and sermons in stones … not because I ended up with the guy, but because I finally made peace with that little insomniac that filled notebooks with poems and love letters to fictional characters. She finally forgave me for not fixing everything, and I finally embraced the fact that everything’s not supposed to be fixed.
These life experiences, these adversities, these soul-opening dreams, led me to compiling and completing my first book. So, it all worked out. *winks*
Considering our writing mission for Act II how will your character(s) deal with adversity? How will they bear up in the face of that all too real side-effect of humanness? What are some of your favorite stories, or memories, about the inevitability of ‘meeting oneself’?
Read, comment, and vote! The reading list and voting poll for Act I awaits your attention.
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Celebrate National Poetry Month with us by posting your contribution to A Poem A Day. April will eventually become May and who knows what’ll happen then. Poetry could die without your help.
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