Monday, May 03, 2010

A Charmed Life

From Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth, 1605. Act V, Scene 8.

... I bear a charmed life, which must not yield, To one of woman born.

My brother breezed into town last week for a couple of days. We only got to spend a few hours together, but my time with him always leaves me very thoughtful because of the various places we go in conversation. One of the things he said to me this time is that he views our childhood as charmed. "You know, we lived a charmed life," he told me with astonishing authority.

Hey wait. I was there, too. Our lives were far from "charmed." Indeed. He pointed to the fact that we never really lived in any way that could be considered impoverished, in a financial sense. And this part may be true, but I wonder what either one of our parents would say to this "charmed life" theory of his. Our father is no longer living. He was disabled for many years and we lived on my mother's salary as well as on whatever disability payments came in as a result of Dad's illness. Quite frankly, I have many depressing memories of those days. But I kind of get his point, that we never really lacked any material thing we needed. But charmed?

Something about that idea really sticks in my craw. I think of a charmed life as being one in which things have been more or less handed to you, with very little of your own effort involved. A silver spoon kind of existence. Is that a charmed life?

What do you think. What exactly is a charmed life?


Robin said...

Good to see you writing here again, Jennifer. :-) Great topic. I think countless conversations like these go on between siblings. My own brother shared with me a few years back that our mother's hearing loss (she is nearly deaf, reads lips but does not sign) is one of the first things he shares about his childhood when he's getting to know someone new. I was shocked to learn that because I rarely, if ever, even mention it. He was even more shocked when I said as much to him. Interesting, to be sure!

Jenny said...

Hi, Robin. I am glad to have an audience! Thanks for reading here. Yes, it is interesting how people we grew up with experienced childhood in the same home with the same parents and sometimes shockingly different perspectives! And of course the male perspective often differs from the female one, too. :)

libramoon said...

I see your interpretation of "charmed" as the fairytale of bequeathement from a sorcery. You are the princess in the tower, unassailable by man, given all you need.

Perhaps your brother's is more of the "charming." People do tend to attract situations, relationships, based on our expectations and what we put out there for others to engage. Classic optimists, who are prone to examine clouds closely for silver linings, enjoy the silvery glow by which they are seen and adored.

Or, perhaps he was speaking of an ability to go through the vicissitudes of life in a charmed awareness that it is all working out.

Who is charming you? Who is your sacred ally and source?