The family is back into the swing of school life and Term 2 has surged forth with a vengeance along with my work load. As a result, when I am not doing my day job, at the moment, I am re-reading Othello and proof reading a persuasive speech on global warming (one of my least favourite topics) and helping out with algebraic equations that still have no meaning or purpose in my life. Bibliophile I may be, yet, you will seldom see me curled up with a Shakespearean play or sonnet. Regardless, I am the go-to parent for interpretation of Shakespeare and as a result I am back into the Elizabethan World View and find myself discussing the plight of Desdemona and the calculating nature of Iago. A significant philosophy woven through many of Shakespeare’s plots is that of Fortune. The Wheel of Fortune is a concept from medieval and ancient philosophy referring to the capricious nature of Fate. The wheel belongs to the goddess Fortuna, who spins it at random, changing the positions of those on the wheel – some suffer great misfortune, others gain windfalls. Fortune appears on paintings as a woman, sometimes blindfolded, “puppeteering” a wheel. Humans are strapped to the wheel and enjoy the spoils of life when the wheel is at its zenith and, of course there are the misfortunes of life endured at the nadir of the wheel’s cycle.
I was drawn to this metaphor as a young man. It helped me understand the randomness of life and emotions – how suddenly joy could turn to sorrow and how sadness could morph back into contentment. As I have aged, I obviously have had, like everyone, my share of good fortune and misfortune. One of the activities I practice when things are not going well is reminding myself that my sadness, my suffering, my aching will pass. Fortune will turn her wheel and I will move through this moment. I actually picture Fortuna taking hold of the wheel, against which my life is strapped, and turning it, gradually moving me through the experience. Similarly I am aware that when things are magnificent and my joy is boundless I know this too will pass and so I gorge on the happiness for as long as I have it. Our thoughts are powerful and I firmly believe that my thoughts control how I am in the world. That said, bad stuff happens right? Having a philosophy that supports us in making meaning of life helps us. Talking to others helps. Above all giving service to others helps. If ever you experience the Wheel of Fortune moving into a downward turn look to your life philosophies to support you, talk to a friend (or a stranger) and do something to help someone else because Fortuna may be turning her wheel with more vigour in someone else’s life and their need may be greater than yours.