Magic lessons from ancient Rome & life lessons from Shakespeare.


HORATIO: If your mind dislike any thing, obey it: I will Forestall their repair hither, and say you are not fit.

HAMLET: Not a whit. We defy augury. There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all. Since no man of aught he leaves knows, what is ‘t to leave betimes? Let be.

Did you know the word auspicious comes from the word “augury?” In ancient Rome, Augurs were people who watched birds, but not to count their plumage or hunt their eggs. They spied on feathered things in order to tell the future, and this particular type of divination was called augury. They believed that the flight of birds, their patterns and formations, their esoteric habits and behaviors, could provide vital information about battles to come and wars to be won.

Hamlet, my favorite tortured prince, had no use for augury. What will be, will be. All we can be is ready, he says.

I do not fall into either camp. I don’t watch for the future—I don’t read cards to tell me what will happen or throw sticks or gaze into a crystal ball. I don’t believe the future provides us with signs. But I also can’t help but worry, regardless of the futility of that particular exercise. I worry all day and then come moonrise, I worry some more. It keeps me up at night, all that worrying.

Shakespeare is still teaching me things. Lesson of the day: Let be. 

[Image by the miraculously self-taught painter Tiffany Bozic. See more of her wonderful work at Colossal.]


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