Beware the Ides of March, right?
It’s what so many of us say to one another this time of year — a parting phrase, a simple, yet ominous, reminder that mid-March has come, a gentle nudge to be mindful, for we never know what despair may befall us.
The phrase has multiple contexts — a single origin — yet most of us know it from William Shakespeare’s 1599 play “Julius Caesar,” wherein a “seer” tells Caesar ahead of his assassination to “beware the Ides of March,” warning him of betrayal amongst his people and, ultimately, his own insufferable demise.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself thinking of that phrase — that menacing sentiment — several times. It’s not one that ever entered my mind, not one I ever offered to others, but a series of recent mishaps, disappointments and challenges has certainly left me wary of the Ides of March.
Wondering if I shouldn’t pay it more attention after all.
To start, a power surge the result of a wind storm left thousands of dollars in damages to our home, ruining everything from light bulbs to a refrigerator and an entire H-VAC system installed only a few weeks ago.
There, too, were work demands, professional changes, bombardments of bad news, and it often felt I couldn’t keep up.
To add insult to injury, my laptop screen went completely black while covering an important meeting, sending me into a fit of tears, the icing on top of a particularly yucky cake I never wanted in the first place.
It seemed I couldn’t tackle one obstacle, find my way around one setback, before another arrived. Every day, something else.
Big things, little things — they all piled up, filling the space around me with fear and anxiety, crowding out joy and leaving me feeling helpless.
At times, even hopeless.
The good news, however, is that many things have been resolved. Our insurance company has been easy to work with; soon we’ll have the money to replace what was damaged as a result of the power surge.
A new refrigerator already buzzes in our kitchen.
My laptop was sent off for repair, and thanks to an earlier wherewithal to purchase AppleCare, it didn’t cost me a dime. It was back on my desk, nothing lost, in a matter of days.
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I’m adjusting to changes forced upon me, yet many hardships remain, several unknowns still loom.
Beware the Ides of March.
A friend reminded me, though, that the Ides of March doesn’t take its origins in cautionary tales.
For the ancient Romans, the Ides was a nod to the phases of the moon, specifically the first new moon of each month, which typically fell somewhere in the middle.
To them, the phrase held an opposite, more encouraging meaning. It signified new beginnings, clean slates and opportunity, even invited celebration for the possibility of good things to come.
So as I sit here, wobbling back and forth between the good and the bad — the remaining problems and possible resolutions — I’m pondering the Ides of March more and more, wondering what it all means, if anything at all.
Is March 15 a sinister day? Or can it just be the mark of change, a shift to something else — something better?
And, for that matter, is any day, really, any different?
There’s bad luck, good fortune and everything in between, and none of it prefers one day of the month over another.
I know that, in my mind, to be true.
Yet given my own experiences during the month of March 2023, it’s possible, moving forward, I may find myself being more mindful, a little extra cautious as I turn the page of the calendar in 2024 and beyond, perhaps even offering that phrase to others in passing when March 15 draws near, remembering all of these struggles and mishaps.
But I also hope that, someday very soon, I look back and find that I came out on the other side, that the Ides of March, while unpleasant this year, also marked the end of a particularly difficult time, that the first of April brought a new beginning, as it so often does, in all its many bright colors and signs of returning life.
So, yes, beware the Ides of March. From my experience, it can be rough.
But spring, dear friends, is right around the corner.
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