A Life of Dickens With a Little Shakespeare Slapped on Top
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” It was thirty-four years ago this week…when all in a one held breath, I grew up.
Up til then, I had seen the world in great vivid colors of brilliant hues. My world was awash with opportunities, teaming with youthful hope. You see, I was in love… and it was the love of youth. I was deeply in love and all that mattered to me was being deeply in that love. It was the kind of love you read of in all the great novels. It was true love; the kind that overcame all bounds and was always triumphant. Of course it was…all those great authors had said as much; right?
I was the love of Shakespearean lilt. In the grips of this love, the whole world was nothing more than a hazy backdrop to my life and I floated along on loves warm breeze like a great cumulus cloud on a brilliant spring day. As if created in God’s kitchen, all the sweet tastes and smells of life emanated from this love.
This was the love that set continents to war, armies to battle and armadas to watery graves throughout time immemorial. It was the love that raised man to their highest heights and drove them to their darkest depths. It was the love of all mankind’s to celebrate and to suffer… And this time, it was mine. All mine.
It was an afternoon of anticipation as I awaited the very embodiment of my love, knowing she would be coming to me that day. And she would come to me with smiles and smells and all good things love brings as youth expects. I’d know her and she’d know me as we had so many times before. I was sure… was sure… But… Not to be.
For when she came, her muted smiles and down turned eyes spoke loudly through the awkward silence of her unspoken secrets. Secrets from which we would never recover. And all in that moment, that love was gone… She was not, but I knew that all had changed and all those vivid hues had turned to grey as I began a new life in my monochrome world; one I had never before seen.
You see, it’s been more than three decades and my world began that day is a good world. I still have the gift of love. Yes, I know love… I have just never again been in love. I know the love of joy, of life, of friends, of wife, of child… But that… the love about which Shakespeare wrote “Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend. More than cool reason ever comprehends. The lunatic, the lover and the poet are of imagination all compact: One sees more devils than vast hell can hold, that is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic, sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.”
You see, that love, in some form of self-defense, I put away that day… and never saw again… I put it away and have lived my monochrome life in my grey-scale world each and every day since. And when the light is just right and the contrasts are vivid, it is a remarkable world — capable of tremendous beauty. Just not that world.