This morning, I heard the line, "Destiny drives through passion," when I tuned into to a BBC Radio Four program on the Aeneid, the founding mythology of Rome*, written by Virgil for Augustus. It referred to Aeneas leaving behind in North Africa his grand passion for Dido, the Carthaginian Queen. His Destiny was to found Rome.
Okay, I won't be doing anything as grandiose as founding a civilization--I have trouble organizing a dinner party--but my destiny has been to take vengeance against war and forgetting for my King Lear-like Great Grandfather who was kicked off his estate by Communism to roam a beggar until he died of illness and heartbreak.
More often than not, I find myself mirrored in literature: it's as if the elder Hamlet's ghost had beckoned me to take revenge for his murder, and I have spent most of my adulthood attempting to bring about justice. In completing "Forget Sorrow," which took 14 years, I have done my duty as a Chinese great granddaughter to bear witness to wrongs committed by the Communists against an entire society. Notice that Hamlet, too, relinquishes Ophelia. His destiny is revenge. (Hey, and it's not only men who leave women for destiny.)
It has been my mania with no room for anything or anyone (be he enemy or lover) to stand in the way of fulfilling my destiny to tell Great Grandfather's story through FORGET SORROW. This passion has overwhelmed all other passions. Is this "normal"? Of course not. But in adulthood, I stopped caring about being normal and let myself gallop off on destiny's broad back.
* People expect me to be at the comics store reading my favorites, but I've spent the better part of the past two years delving into the history of Rome, which helps me to understand how Western civilization has become what it is today. Roman history tells me about the culture I've come to adopt at age seven. The history of Rome also educates me about human societies and human nature. By contrast and comparison to the Chinese Empire, reading about Rome helps me retain ideas and philosophy. An added bonus for one who loves Shakespeare, I've come to envision the role the Roman past played in Renaissance England. Shakespeare's topics, characters and many plots are based on the plays of Plautus or Terrance. Yes, he was a borrower.
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