“Present fears are less than horrible imaginings.” – Macbeth after seeing the witches
I figured I would use witches on Halloween to share a Life thought.
Shakespeare was a pretty insightful guy <as well as a darn good writer>. He had a nasty habit of capturing some every day, every common person thinking in his classic work which made it thoughtfully entertaining.
A truth – we people do have a habit of fearing ‘what could be’ a lot.
Macbeth is interesting because it is sort of about ‘overcoming’ imagined fear.
The fear of ‘what if.’
Macbeth tries to convince himself the witches have foretold a ‘truth’ and therefore the prophecies <the imagined> they shared with him can’t be all that bad <because they are simply ‘what will be’ and not imagined.
This doesn’t come easy to Macbeth <as it wouldn’t be easy for you or I or anyone for that matter to take advice from a witch> because he invests a shitload of energy wondering … if the witches’ prophecies are good, then why does the horrid image doth unfix my hair … and make my seated heart knock at my ribs.
He is scared <as anyone one of us would be if three witches appeared in front of us let alone even talked to us>.
In his scared-shitness he says to himself … “present fears are less than horrible imaginings.”
He means that the fear that you feel in the face of actual danger cannot be nearly as bad as the fear of imagined danger. Basically he is talking himself into not being scared shitless and doing whatever he needs to do to be king <the point here isn’t that you probably won’t be a king/queen if you overcome your imagined fears – I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up – but that you are more likely to attain ‘the next stop on your ambition Metro line’ if you can overcome fear and move on>.
He makes himself believe that tomorrow’s actions cannot possibly be as frightening as he now feels it is.
It is a good lesson for us even if you don’t have any witches around to prompt you to doing what you should be doing.
Shakespeare also makes a point that having some fear is actually good for us <whoa … now THERE is a thought>.
Before Macbeth goes to visit the witches Hecate orders them to create illusions that will make Macbeth “spurn fate, scorn death, and bear his hopes ‘bove wisdom, grace and fear”.
Well, well, well.
When the witches present the apparitions to Macbeth, it is their intention to convince him that he has nothing to fear <actually … to convince him to put hope above fear if I want to be true to the words in the play>.
And, actually, I like that thought better.
How do you overcome horrible imaginings? Focus on the hope for something better.
Good life lesson.
It is also in MacBeth that the witches share the conundrum of Life to Macbeth:
First Witch: Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.
Second Witch: Not so happy, yet much happier.
Third Witch: Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.
Shakespeare throws in a nifty common everyday life ‘horrible imagining’ here … the reality that Life is a contradiction <therefore nothing is simple>.
The ability to be lesser and yet greater.
To be not so happy and yet be happier.
To be a king and, yet, not.
Geez. What could be worse than the non-absolute?
Of course … what could be better than the non-absolute?
<darn those witches>
Fear keeps us sharp … as long as it doesn’t freeze us into inaction.
My only advice?
Don’t wait for some witches to stop by and tell you this.
Although. On Halloween night I guess anything is possible.
In closing …
MACBETH <closing the scene>: Till then, enough. Come, friends.