Happy Father’s Day. Hope you’re enjoying the crab cakes, getting your exercise, and listening to your wife.
It seems a very different world from the one we shared over Christmas, when you and Mom came out for a visit and we wound up with paper crowns on our heads. I just stumbled across this photo in my phone, and it made me laugh. Then, it made me think of that line from Henry IV – “Heavy is the head the wears the crown.” Although I think the original text read, “Uneasy is the head that wears the crown.”
Do you suppose there’s a difference? Do you suppose it’s worse to have a “heavy head,” or an “uneasy head?” I’d prefer neither, but truth be told, I’m afraid my noggin is both heavy and uneasy, here of late, and I know that yours is, too. Mom says you’re watching too much news and worrying too much about all the trouble in the world. I’ve been told I’m doing the same. It calls to mind that other bit of Shakespeare. The line from Hamlet. “I have of late, but wherefore I know not lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition; that this goodly frame the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory.”
Actually, it’s not that bad. Hamlet was depressed. I’m just experiencing a touch of malaise. Or maybe ennui. Do you suppose there’s a difference? Regardless, I still think it’s a fine time to be alive, and I’m still long on humanity. But these headlines really would depress a hyena, and I do wonder if the heaviness and uneasiness once unique to Kings and Princes are shared by common men like us? After all, Hamlet didn’t have a newsfeed to keep him permanently unsettled. And Henry didn’t have a Twitter feed to contend with, or constant access to every bit of bad news unfolding in real time from every corner of his Kingdom. Today, it seems like we all wear a crown of troubles, made ever weightier by the endless flow of heartbreak that surrounds us.
Or, maybe I just miss you?
It’s one thing to be 3,000 miles apart for months at a time, but this business of not being able to get together because my germs might kill you is making me edgy. It’s also making me argue with my neighbors over topics I’d normally go out of my way to avoid. Just yesterday for instance, in the midst of Freddy’s morning constitutional, I got sucked into a lively debate with some very opinionated people about the wisdom of defunding the police. I expressed my belief that humanity, sadly, still needs to be protected from humanity, and that our society needs good cops now more than ever. Without men and women of character in those positions – men and women who are willing to risk their lives protecting and serving us – we’re in real trouble. Especially those in the poorest of communities.
When I finished, my neighbor informed me that I was speaking “from a place of pilgrimage.”
“Pilgrimage?” I asked. “I’m not sure what you mean.”
My neighbor lowered his mask and said, “Privilege, Mike. You’re speaking from a place of white privilege.”
When I told him that I was well aware of my race, but unclear as to why the color of my skin precluded me from sharing an opinion on the potentially disastrous consequences of defunding the police, he told me I was “acting like a moose.”
“A moose?” I asked. “How am I acting like a moose?”
My neighbor lowered his mask again and said, “Obtuse! I said you’re being deliberately obtuse!” At which point Freddy crapped on his lawn, and the conversation shifted to the delightful prospect of emptying the prisons while simultaneously restricting our right to keep and bear arms.
Anyway Dad, I’m going to remove my crown of troubles, and hope you’ll do the same. As Hamlet said, in a rare burst of optimism, “What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty. In form and moving how express and admirable. In action how like an Angel. In apprehension how like a god!”
The rest gets a bit melancholy, so let’s just leave it there. I am, as always, privileged to be your son, and eternally grateful – not for passing on your genes, (which I do appreciate,) but for showing me by example what it means to be a man of integrity and character.
Miss you. Hope to see you sometime soon.
Till then, stay safe, and say hello to the missus.