The other night the phrase mortal coil popped into my head. What exactly does that mean, I wondered, and where does it come from? It sounded like something Shakespeare would say. Sure enough, with the help of John Bartlett, I found the phrase in Hamlet’s soliloquy
“. . . For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause . . . .” Then to the dictionary to find out what coil meant in Shakespeare’s day. The meanings of words over the years have changed. Shakespeare meant turmoil. Yes, life has its turmoils.
As I get older, I think more about the question “To be or not to be.” Or perhaps I should say more in terms of “to do or not to do?” I’m sure I have said before that I think that it is our addictions that keep us alive, keep us doing. Addictions are not necessarily bad. When addictions are socially and morally acceptable, we call them passions, or if they are as yet unrealized, dreams, and are advised to follow them.
The final addiction is to life itself – or is it really just fear — the fear of the alternative. As Claudio says in “Measure for Measure” (Shakespeare has a lot on the subject of being or not being.) “The weariest and most loathed worldly life that age, aches, penury and imprisonment can lay on nature is a paradise to what we fear of death.”
Watching the terrible tug of war going on in Libya has had me thinking about the effect of the fear of death because so often I have heard so many of the fighters in opposition to Gadhafi say “I am no longer afraid of dying, and so I am not afraid to fight for freedom whatever it takes.” Hearing this makes me think that I finally understand the meaning of Janis Joplin’s “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”
But in fact, as I said in the beginning, I am really thinking about to do or not to do. This year will mark the 10th anniversary of my column. Being a writer was my dream since I was 8 years old, but like striving actors, struggling
writers usually have to have a day job. Occasionally I’ve had one that included writing.
I have been writing for A.M. Costa Rica for nearly 10 years, and it has become my passion. As much as the act of writing has been the responses from readers, learning about other lives and being able not to just think about what I observe or experience, but to share my thoughts or observations and get a response. Although I don’t participate much in the social network, I do understand the charm it holds for many others.
However, lately I have been writing more about my musings instead of my meanderings. (Note the beginning of this column.) It may be time for a change. Change is like a mini death – the end of one way of life to another. So there is mini fear that comes with change. What will I do when the column no longer shapes my life? What new addiction will I find? Jay, my editor, has suggested, before I (or he) puts out a call for sample columns from those interested, that I ask people to write what they think the requirements or qualifications are for someone who writes a column about Costa Rica.
Of course, the first requirement is that the writer live in Costa Rica. After that, I welcome your ideas for the ideal columnist for A.M. Costa Rica. You can send them to email@example.com.
No doubt you may be quoted.