To sleep, perchance to dream

In the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Verdi’s “Macbeth,” Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene is a stunner. The opera was one of the last performances I saw in that house before the Met closed its doors because of the pandemic. In this particular scene, Lady Macbeth relives the past crimes she and her husband have committed. She is sleepwalking but is being observed by her handmaiden and her doctor. Except for these two standing to the side, the stage is bare when she enters. She steps onto a chair and begins her aria. As she starts walking, she stares straight ahead, and servants carrying chairs appear from all sides, strategically placing them in her path. Imagine the trust necessary for a performer to be confident that when she takes that step off one chair, another will appear before her. There can be no hesitancy or looking down as that would distract from the drama. Trust it must be.

Trust means allowing vulnerability. Relationships don’t work without trust and they don’t work unless both parties are willing to be vulnerable. Building trust requires time, patience, and work. Those (like me) who need to feel a sense of control, often have difficulty showing vulnerability. But to achieve real intimacy and trust with friends and loved ones one needs to show that vulnerability. Sometimes those friends and loved ones will let us down, but we know that we can rely on them when it counts. That’s trust.

At this moment of my life I am putting great trust in my doctors. They are making all of the decisions, even though they are giving me choices and all of the vulnerability in on my side of the equation. They are invariably caring and kind, and I am confident that I am listened to and that my concerns are not being dismissed out of hand. My chief oncologist always starts with a joke. “Why do ducks have feathers? To cover their butt quacks.” I love that about him. The jokes aren’t that funny, but his smile lights up the room. He’s making himself vulnerable.

Is it true that a long night’s sleep and a good laugh are the best cures in the world?

15 thoughts on “To sleep, perchance to dream

  1. Trust is something that we build over time and yes, we put ourselves in a vulnerable spot as we place our trust in others which is why it is so devastating when that trust is broken. It is so important to have trust in our doctors because we count on them to know what is best for us. The fact that your doctor likes to start with a joke, corny as it may be, shows that he is a caring individual and looking out for you. Definitely trust building.

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  2. Wow! What a powerful performance that must have been!

    I understand the sacrifice of control is challenging — been there. I’m glad you have an oncologist you trust. That helps for sure.

    Great, thought-provoking slice!

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    1. Thank, Pam. I meant to write something else entirely, but this is what popped in my mind once I started. Maybe my next slice will be about lack of sleep.

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  3. I love how you weave opera into so many of your posts. I would love to see an opera with you some day. Post-pandemic let’s make it happen. Trust is a big thing and it does make us vulnerable. Your doctor seems like a good fit – since I can’t help but think – wicked sense of humor – when I think of you. Laughing for sure is cure for me — good night’s sleep … well that is no longer in my control! Nice to see you today my friend.

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    1. Sleep has been eluding me too lately, but laughter, I have a lot of that! For sure, let’s make an opera date once its an option. I hope the Met survives this.

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  4. Trust is earned. I have heard that for years… but so often we are asked to trust in institutions and things that don’t really deserve our trust? Doctors, bosses, family all people that we need to be able to trust and yet so often they let us down. Something I am committed too? When I feel like I can’t trust someone I go with my gut. Oftentimes our intuition knows what’s up. If you feel you can trust your doctors… then you are probably at the right place.

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    1. Being vulnerable is a challenge but an important one. You are an inspiration too. I am in awe of your abilities and love reading your slices.

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  5. That duck joke-! I know one about “molasses” that is too long to tell here… (probably you should be glad). Reading your words on vulnerability and control makes me think about the freedom in trust. There’s an expanse in trust, in which to rest…a place just to be and to savor. I see this connecting to your post on awe. That breathtaking Lady Macbeth aria certainly integrates trust and awe… and grace.

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  6. I am often awed by opera and also often awed by your responses that always move me to see something I didn’t realize was there! Thank you.

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  7. That Lady Macbeth scene is so powerful, I imagine the opera version must be stunning…So sorry to hear you’re having trouble sleeping, hope that reverses soon. The trust between doctor and patient must be like no other, I have a daughter who is a nurse and midwife and I catch glimpses from her stories of the sick or about to give birth relying on the helper. I am glad you can keep writing through it all.

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