Phillip Henslowe: Mr. Fennyman allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.
Hugh Fennyman: So what do we do?
Phillip Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
Hugh Fennyman: How?
Phillip Henslowe: I don’t know. It’s mystery.
–From Shakespeare in Love
A few weeks ago, when my wife and I were dedicating our weekend to a Netflix marathon, we decided to watch Shakespeare in Love. And while I enjoyed all the wit and romance of this well-told story, but it was this simple exchange between Phillip Henslowe and Hugh Fennyman that resonated the most with me not only because it most likely seems to be true of the theatre business from what others have told me, but because I think true about life at all levels.
“Imminent disaster” and “insurmountable obstacles” are part of the natural human condition. If we could step outside of ourselves and see more of our life, than we currently have the capability of seeing, we would first be amazed at how ridiculous preposterous we are and next we would be surprised by how many things go right despite our huge blind spots and our natural inclinations to be lazy, destructive, biased, perverted and unsympathetic to needs of others.
Humans suffer acutely from an inability to learn the right lessons from our past, an inability to apply a full and proper perspective to the present, an inability to assess the consequences of our actions, and our limited in their ability to look into or predict the clouded future. Add to this list all of our vices and our destructive addictions, our myopic selfishness and our foolish pride, and our narrowly defined desires and passions. And don’t forget our physical limitations and the breakdown of our bodies and minds as we age. And this is all before, we have to interact with each other, imagine millions and billions of people interacting with each other, each making decisions for themselves and others, yet all suffering daily from the same follies, foibles, and limitations. Lastly, top all of this with the capriciousness of nations, governments, and Mother Nature herself.
Despite of all of this, we should just be astonished that things actually get done, that tall buildings and a lengthy highways get built, that we have automobiles, trains, planes and large cruise ships, and that some geniuses came up with the computers, the Internet, and smart phones. We should recognize that it is an absolute miracle that our children, our siblings, our friends, and co-workers, pets, plants, nature and wildlife survive us. Each nation should have a National Day of Awe because life truly is a marvelous mystery.