Sitting around this afternoon, gloating over two new books, I got to thinking how how rich were my 93 years. Back in the dark ages, I aspired to write a book called The Seven Days of Man. It would trace life in seven parts beginning with birth and pre- school years on Sunday, wrapping up Saturday evening in the crematorium.
Then I discovered William Shakespeare beat me to the idea, casting life as a seven-act play. In As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 7 He wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages. At first, the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms. Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping like snail unwillingly to school. And then the lover, sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier, full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, seeking the bubble reputation even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice, in fair round belly with good capon lined, with eyes severe and beard of formal cut, full of wise saws and modern instances; and so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts into the lean and slippered pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side; his youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide for his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, turning again toward childish treble, pipes and whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”
King Solomon also took a stab at old age: Ecclesiastes 12:3-5: “Then the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when people rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; when people are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags itself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then people go to their eternal home and mourners go about the streets.”
I’ve had a lot more fun life than Shakespeare or Solomon’s guy. I’m awed at the adventures life brought. I know Saturday evening is gaining on me, but I plan to enjoy every minute that remains, sans nothing.