Some people get more involved and engaged in activities, groups, and commitments as they get older. I, however, have always had my hands in as many jars as I could find. I believe it comes from my mother– her inability to say no to people when they ask for help provided all the behavior model I needed to follow suit (or could it be in my genes? It does sometimes feel unavoidable that way).

Even when I was in high school, while some people were fully consumed with the latest MTV fad (16 and Pregnant which was just giving way to the first season of Teen Mom, by the way), I was being groomed for a future of little sleep. I was in our select choir, garden club, National Honor Society, taking honors and AP classes, and babysitting.

Add this to the fact that travel time to my school was a good 20-30 minutes from my house, and you have a recipe for lack of sleep and a need to cut corners to get homework done on time. It’s not surprising then, that when a class assigned reading as homework it was rarely done thoroughly and comprehensively (I could probably recall every individual title of the works I read cover to cover during my high school career).

In my Sophomore year that I decided among a host of honors classes, I would take a “regular” English class. Sure, mostly, it just fit perfectly into my desired schedule, but it was also a relief to have less pressure on me in at least one of my classes. I’m thankful for that decision time and again, as it was during that year I gained a true appreciation for Shakespeare.

As a class, we read a number of works aloud within the classroom walls which I thought was like a divine intervention on my behalf; I could read and understand the works fully without having the stress of trying not to fall asleep at my desk (or in bed) at home. In the middle of the year, we began A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I was cast in the part of Puck, and I fell in love with the dialogue and action in the room.

I looked forward to meeting there with my classmates to hear the action come alive. I wonder whether my feelings towards Julius Ceasar and Romeo and Juliet would have been different if I had engaged with them in this fashion. My divine intervention  wasn’t over as we switched titles in our classroom, though. That spring, the theater club put on a performance of none other than A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I watched it come alive in a dress-rehearsal-turned-assembly. It is said that Shakespeare’s works were written to be seen, not read, and as I watched girls in fairy outfits flutter across the stage as if they were weightless, I understood why. That guy sure knew what he was doing all those years ago.

That guy sure knew what he was doing all those years ago.


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