“Fair is foul and foul is fair; Hover through the fog and filthy air” – Macbeth (William Shakespeare)
When I first read these words at the end of Scene I in Macbeth many moons ago in my teen years of high school studies I didn’t quite understand what ole Wills was getting at. Almost two decades have passed since then and for reasons unknown to me those lines have leaked from the recesses of my memory and tantalised me with annoying repetition in the past week.
Today it dawned on me that the words are one of many clichés, quirky one-liners or wise old sayings that speak of the paradox of life. Nothing is ever as simple as “good or bad”, “young or old”, “love or hate” and so on. And these paradoxical moments or feelings rarely exist as singular experiences. Always where the one is, the opposite hovers in the shadows. And sometimes they’re so closely intertwined it’s hard to know what the outcome will be.
I’ve had what by my definition can only be termed as a foul week. There were certainly moments when the air was foul and filthy with the stench of my fears, blues and downright “feeling rubbish” moments. The hand of despair and intense sadness pressed down on my chest like a boulder. And then somewhere in and amongst the blues, there’d be these moments of joyful surprises – unexpected correspondence from someone seemingly out of reach; messages of support and encouragement from people I least expected it from; good news of a dear friend in remission from cancer and getting the work package she’d been hoping for; cuddly, tender moments with my twelve year old and warped laughter bordering on mockery with my boyfriend just to keep things from getting too intense.
And it’s in these paradoxical twists, turns and meanderings that I realize life is being lived just as it should be and always teetering on the balance between foul and fair.