“To be, or not to be” is the opening line of Hamlet’s soliloquy, as he experiences an existential crisis and ponders the meaning of life and whether it’s really worth the suffering we must endure. Hamlet is an introspective young man and not given to bold action. His Call to Adventure arrives when he is visited by the ghost of his recently deceased father.
Hamlet’s father reveals that he was murdered by his brother, Claudius who has been crowned king and has since married Hamlet’s mother, Queen Gertrude. His father demands that Hamlet avenge his death. To do otherwise, would mean dishonoring his father’s memory and being branded a coward. This is the life script that Hamlet has been handed to work out his destiny. It’s no wonder why Shakespeare writes “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
What does your life script look like? Even though we do not get to choose the type of script we receive in life, we still decide how we play our roles by the choices we make. Like Hamlet, we are all born with a certain backstory that includes our family, culture, and socio-economic status that shapes our experiences, values and belief system. This is what informs your decisions and influences your actions. The same code that guided Hamlet’s society, namely, loyalty, honor, and valor, are the same values we admire today. Unlike Hamlet, we are lucky to live in a society with a justice system that saves us from avenging the wrongful death of a loved one.
Like so many fictional heroes, we may feel a certain lack in our lives, or possess a character flaw that keeps us from living the good life. Ultimately, the essence of what we seek in life is happiness. It’s this desire that stirs the mind and embarks us on an incredible journey of self-discovery and self-fulfillment. Even though we may pursue external objects and events as major goals in life, any happiness we derive will arise from deep within ourselves. Happiness is a state of being. It is our essential nature.
It’s like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, who feels unloved and wants to run away from the farm where she lives with her aunt and uncle. Her wish comes true when she is swept away by a tornado and winds up in the Land of Oz. As she follows the yellow brick road to find the Wizard of Oz, she meets Scarecrow who desires a brain, Tinman who seeks a heart, and Cowardly Lion who wishes for more courage. They are all searching for the missing part of themselves. By the time Dorothy arrives at her destination, she discovers that happiness is a byproduct of helping others and that “there’s no place like home.” By venturing out into the unknown, she discovers that it’s the journey not the destination that’s most important.
We all play a variety of roles throughout our lives, beginning with being members of a family unit. If you are unlucky to be an orphan like Oliver Twist, then life can be pretty harsh. It will require extreme coping skills to navigate the world. If you have read my book, Spun: 101 Movies to Recreate Your Reality, then you know that once you decide on a goal, you will find everyone else is either there to support or oppose you in your quest. Similarly, depending on whether you wish to cooperate or compete with others, you will find yourself frequently changing masks and playing the role of a shapeshifter.
In Oliver Twist’s case, he finds himself with no good options. His mother dies in a workhouse while giving birth to him. By the time he is nine years old, he is sent to the main workhouse where he toils away, barely receiving enough sustenance. After running away to London, he is recruited as a member of a gang of pickpockets. Oliver is like a babe in the woods with no one to protect him. He yearns to be part of a family, but doesn’t fit in with the group no matter how hard he tries. It’s not until he is arrested that his life changes serendipitously, and he discovers that he is not an orphan after all. Even though he is a prisoner of circumstances, Oliver does not let it define him. It is why he is able to easily transition into the new role with his family.
What the movie, Oliver Twist, reveals is that there are times when we need to surrender to certain situations that are beyond our control. Oftentimes, they embark us on a journey that leaves us feeling lost, lonely, and frightened. These hardships are there to test and instruct us, so we ought to persist through any doubt and fear. Sometimes it may feel like we are standing at the end of a long, dark tunnel with no way out. But, if we keep our focus on the essence of what we hope to achieve, it will act as a beacon guiding us home.
As human beings, we possess an uncanny ability to imagine the outcome of whatever we desire and simulate the emotions that we expect to experience as though they were real. It is what gives us the freedom to dream the impossible dream. It is what keeps us motivated when obstacles are confronted. By creating an image of what we desire in the mind, we attract the right people and circumstances that can help make it a reality. You become like an artist painting a picture on the canvas of the mind, using your thoughts as a delicate paintbrush.
In The Secret Garden, a young orphan, Mary Lennox, is sent from India to live with her uncle in a gloomy, old castle in England. Life for Mary becomes an adventure as she discovers a bedridden cousin, Colin, who is kept locked away in his room because of his disability, and a secret garden that has been locked up since her aunt passed away. Mary sets to work, tirelessly restoring the garden to its former glory and inspiring Colin to believe that he can walk again. In so doing, she restores life in the garden and love in the castle.
What Mary reminds us is that we all need a Secret Garden to escape and regenerate ourselves. It should be a place of beauty and serenity, where we can find solace and solitude. Such a sanctuary must be created deep within our being, where we can withdraw from the hustle and bustle of the world. It must be a place where past and future do not exist. What we did yesterday, or last year, is past and gone, except for the memories that still flicker in our minds. Tomorrow remains nothing more than a dream. All we have is this present moment, which is the seat of our power.
(To Read CHAPTER 1 of My Book “Spun: 101 Movies to Recreate Your Reality” Click Link).
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