To Be or Not to Be

For the past few days I’ve been reading several things at once and trying to think through stuff about purpose and the role of religion in life and the result for now is that the gray matter feels like a scrambled lump of swirly confusion. It’s giving me sinus pressure.

I’ll let you know when I sort things out.

In the meantime, I want to comment on something I read this morning in Sports Illustrated about Joe Paterno, the 82-year-old football coach at Penn State. He reads the classics in his downtime, and he quoted Hamlet’s soliloquy:

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?

For the first time in my life I understand what that means. It’s about choice. Do we choose to let the difficulty of life triumph over our spirits and cop out to ourselves that we’re noble sufferers or do we suck it up, stand up and fight?

It’s not about whether it’s nobler to whine or to fight — there’s no question that the fighting is nobler. It’s about whether it’s nobler in our minds. About whether we are personally, individually willing to do the hard things or to excuse ourselves for not doing them.

This is not a small thing. I know people who are the “woe is me” type, who see life as an endless conspiracy out to get them, and I know others who face equal or greater challenges who meet those challenges head-on with courage and integrity. The latter group is happier.

I fall somewhere in between. My brain tells me to take arms against a sea of troubles, but some other part of me is drawn to nobly suffering. I have a choice to make. Which way do I go?

JoePa pushes his players to face not just football, but life, with courage. I have mad respect for him after reading that article.

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Categories: Brain Workouts

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