Friday, February 25, 2011

Poetry Friday: Opportunity

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

-Julius Caesar, Act IV Scene iii, William Shakespeare

I love these lines, always have. They remind me that when an opportunity arises,  I need to lay hold of it, to take it at the flood, to resist the urge to simply let the current carry me along. 

Last week, a small tide arose in our direction when the kids' taekwondo instructor invited us to volunteer at the U.S. TaeKwonDo Championships, fortuitously being held in our city. It would probably be more apt to call these the World Championships, simply because teams converged on the convention center from all over the globe. We saw athletes from Mexico, Korea, Brazil, even Australia. Crikey!

We even got to listen to a coach berate his athlete in Swedish. Good times. 

I was assigned to operate a video camera at one of the competition rings, which tells you something about how desperate they were for volunteers. Do you have a pulse? OK, you're perfect for the job. My kids worked as "ring runners," scurrying to and fro in the wake of their unruffled instructor, moving sparring equipment, carrying results from the judges' tables, checking to make sure all the candy baskets were ... um, well-stocked for the ... um, judges and athletes. Yeah, that's it. 

It was pretty terrific, all told. 

As a mother, I find myself striking a curious balance. I'm a go-er and a do-er. I like to try new things like this, occasionally at the risk of my comfort zone, perhaps because I have a sense by now of how the tide shifts and changes. The years are short. The years with my kids are even shorter.  There's this sense of urgency sometimes, of wanting to make the most of the time we have (especially with the flexibility of homeschooling), of wanting to help them seize the opportunities that may or may not drift their way again. 

But God gave me a child -- whose personality tends to dominate the sibling dynamic -- who wants to stay home. Who loves nothing better than to curl up in the red armchair and have his friends come to him. Who would rather play Toontown for hours every Saturday, if he were allowed, than go find the place where two roads diverge in a yellow wood. 

Is my way better? Sometimes. Do I know better? Probably. Do I appreciate the value of opportunity -- and the bitter taste of regret for the "omitted" -- more fully than a ten year old? Why, yes, I do. 

But do I need to take every tide at the flood, forcing my reluctant crewmen into the gale of every enriching educational experience? Or can I learn to say "no" to Captain Me sometimes when it's anxiety filling my sails, wanting to steer our course -- so that perhaps the "yeses" matter more? Can we find room for "a full sea" and room for rest in the shallows? 

When we get it all figured out, you'll be the first to know. In the meantime, I'm glad we took this one at the flood. 

Poetry Friday roundup here this week. 


KTG said...

Beautiful writing Mrs! I had a chuckle over the toon town reference.

Jane said...

Wow, Hannah, what lovely & inspiring thoughts! I tend to agree that in this adventure called "life", the yeses matter most! Carpe diem!

Sara said...

I still have words from Julius Caesar in my head from high school---I really loved rolling those lines off my tongue.

I hear you on the adventure/home dilemma. As a military family, we were always floating on a new tide whenever we were assigned to a new place, never knowing when or to where we might embark next. But having that HOME to come back to---even if as you say, it's but a cozy chair---well, that's lovely too.

by r. said...

I love your articulation of this dilemma, which I know I face all the time, or something like it anyways - do i do this thing that i will hate but will be good for me, or do i preserve my sanity for another cause? :) Thanks for putting it into words for us, it's inspiring to see you as a mother!

Julie said...

Beautifully put! What By r said in comments....:)


Great post. I'm biased: I'm glad you and the kids took this opportunity to step outside your comfort zone.

Ben said...

Very cool Shakespeare poem at the beginning. I connect really well with your thoughts. Even though I'm not a father, I do a lot of volunteering with youth and it's always a struggle for both myself and them to urge taking the road less traveled by (which made me smile to see you quote the first two lines in there slyly) Taking the tide at the flood takes a lot of effort!