Saturday, June 7, 2014

Featured submission humor: To be old or not to be old, that is the question

Jane M Handel
We are delighted to feature this humorous take off on Hamlet's famous To Be or Not To Be speech, by writer Jane M. Handel.


by Jane M. Handel (with apologies to W Shakespeare)

To be … old or not to be … old, that is the question
Whether tis nobler to stick around longer even if you’ve lost the plot
To carry on battling with your arm in a sling or the wheelchair of outrageous agedness
Or to throw in the towel, give-up and bugger off.
To die, to sleep. To be no more
And by this sleep end the fear of heart attack and the thousand bumps and shocks that wrinkled flesh is prone to.  It is a very tempting quick fix
To die, to sleep, To sleep, perchance to dream – oh shit – there’s the rub
Because in that sleep of death, what if you had horrible dreams – like endless re-runs of Dr House
If you ended it all yourself, there would be no going back to complain about bad Tele
That makes you think
There’s the fly in the ointment which might make you put up with the calamity of long life
When you think about it who would put up with the Botox needles and the scorns of time,
The other residents of the old people’s home, the smart-arse young man,
The pangs of being too old for a bit of the other, the delay getting your pension
From a rude civil servant
And all the things that one has to put up with at the end of life
Who would put up with all that?
If it were so easy to top oneself – who would drag shopping when you can’t drive anymore
Grunting and sweating through this weary life
If there were not something which scares the hell out of us
A little niggle - what the next life might be
No one has ever come back to tell us
It makes you think you’d better stick it out
Rather than jump from the frying pan into the fire
So fearful awareness (of death) makes us wimps
Our plans for going out with a bang made shaky by too much thinking
Our resolve is the only thing that gets hit on the head
It’s easier to slump back than to name the action
And we think – Oh sod this, I’ll stay around a bit longer
Jane M Handel
Formerly of Stratford Upon Avon

About the author: Jane M. Handel has been teaching fitness since 1993 when she gave up her job as a solicitor in a city firm in London to return to Paris to look after her children. Her  short story "The Way You Looked at Me" was selected for inclusion in Best Paris Stories, the anthology of winning stories from the International Paris Short Story Contest. She is currently working on a novel.

To be, or not to be--that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--
No more--and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep--
To sleep--perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprise of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.
- William Shakespeare from ‘Hamlet’

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