Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sound and Fury

"... Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5)

Shakespeare was a master of words. The great bard had the ability to capture completely a mood or a sense in such few words, with majesty and grace and passion. The above lines from Macbeth stirred through my thoughts the other day as I was driving along a fairly busy highway. I was in the inside lane (i.e. the slow lane) and there was a 5-foot wide paved shoulder beside me. Traffic was moving along at about 35 mph and there was about 1 or 2 car lengths between each vehicle. A few hundred feet in front of me, a lone racoon comes out of the woods and begins a slow movement to cross the highway. His instinct was to get his hackles up, and slowly, almost menacingly, approach the thin white line that separated the shoulder from the inside lane. He was moving purposefully and steadily. As I passed his location, he was about 2 feet from the white line and still moving. I lost sight of him as I went around the nearby bend in the road, but his demise was inevitable. This stretch of road is littered with the carcasses of other brave but foolish creatures who thought that they could threaten and bully everyone into clearing a path for them. To the rest of the world they were a gnat, a nuisance that was so outmatched that they never even got a second notice. The epitomy of sound and fury signifying nothing.

How often in life do we posture and strut, thinking how everyone should take notice of us and our work and our reputations? We are so puffed up with pride that we have totally deluded ourselves into believing that we are so important and necessary that everyone had better take notice of us and get out of the way. A poor player indeed.