As You Like (To See) It, A Traveler's Melancholy

Though relatively young, and therefore jovial, and the product of a content childhood packed with humor, I've grown into someone that is constantly asked:

Are you unhappy?

Fijian Funeral Week

Fijian Funeral Week

Bawling at the table in my Italian family's home, seeming a mystery to the black and white of intercontinental correspondence, being irrationally testy at home, where the bubble is supposed to pet and nurture positivity; evidence seems to side with either insanity or discontentment. Why do I move, and therefore search, without landing on what will actually placate my soul? Am I attempting to obtain something intentional that is completely out of reach? Does no destination stop the longing to be somewhere else?

Am I carving my lifestyle with a bitter blade that hopes its creation won't win?

Whoa…I laid it on fast and deep, right into the pit of a wanderer's insatiable quandary - the unavoidable knife that static souls jab into the sides of vibrating shadows in the daylight.

What makes a person happy?

For what is a traveler traveling?

Are we unhappy, or does the world fulfill us?

And if it doesn't, what could ever hope to fulfill someone if the world cannot?

These aren't the constant thoughts in my head, as a brain with these fly-by musings would pound itself into whatever wall is closest. However, there are triggers in life that create wormholes for these trains of thought to come through. Yesterday's trigger was a movie by William Shakespeare, As You Like It.

As You Like It

As You Like It

Now, I'm aware that spouting off conceptual prose and quoting Shakespeare immediately makes me seem like an elitist with my four fingers in my buttons like a forefather. I watched this movie because it was at the library, because I'm hoping to learn more about storytelling and cinematography, and because I realized that approaching Shakesperean English the way I approach Spanish yields the same general understanding that reveals more to me of the language than I knew before.

In this play, a woman, exiled to the woods where she disguises herself as a boy for safety, spends a little time chatting with a man who is often found dragging his feet and wallowing in his own gloom. You may call him a melancholy fellow, if you talked like a 16th century Brit. I found the following passage to be amusing, hopefully not seeing my own reflection with too much clarity in the man's visage.

They say you're a melancholy fellow.

I am so. I do love it better than laughing.

Those that are an extremity of either are abominable fellows and betray themselves to every modern censure worse than drunkards.

Why? Tis good to be sad and say nothing.

Why then? Tis good to be a post.

I have neither the scholar's melancholy, which is emulation, nor the musician's, which is fantastical, nor the courtier's, which is proud, nor the soldier's, which is ambitious, nor the lawyer's, which is politic, nor the lady's, which is nice, nor the lover's, which is all these, but it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and indeed the sundry contemplation of my travels, in which my often rumination wraps me in a most humorous sadness.

A traveler? By my faith you have great reason to be sad. I fear you've sold your own lands to see other man's, and to have seen much and have nothing is to have rich eyes and poor hands.

…..Yes. I have gained my experience.

I'd rather have a fool to make me merry than an experience to make me sad. And to travel for it, too…

Rosalind from As You Like It

Rosalind from As You Like It

I'm no master interpreter of Old Billy Boy, and since we know smarty boys like Frost love the satisfaction of deceptive prose, I'm hesitant to think the literal meaning of this dialogue is the point he's trying to make.

Is the traveler a fool, to make himself a hobo and satisfied only by other's possessions, from which he himself runs?

Is the traveler a fool, to find richness in experiences that can be lost with a quick blow to the head, though things can be lost just as quickly?

Is the traveler a sad fool, hoping to convince everyone he has harnessed the richness of the world's best?

And so I conclude my rambling in hopes I hear from you, the reader. If it's not necessarily melancholy but a deep and pensive state, do you feel Shakespeare is making a sad observation of travelers? Is this a dated view of possessions vs. experiences? What do you think of this passage and concept?

Comment below or contact me personally. I'm interested in dialogues, and without a rebuttal or echo, I'm merely talking to myself.