Imagine more, act less


Nothing in his life

became him like the leaving it. He died

as one that had been studied in his death

to throw away the dearest thing he owed,

as t’were a careless trifle.


-        Macbeth, Act I, scene VI


The play, Macbeth begins and ends, like bookends, with a conversation between the young prince, Malcolm and an older relative, about a recent death. 

The first conversation comes as a challenging rebellion against the crown has been decisively suppressed. Malcolm reports back to his father, the king, on the execution of a trusted advisor who had, it turns out, sided with the rebels.  Malcolm describes how stoically and admirably the traitor died, as if his whole life merely served to prepare him for that moment of greatness.

This conversation is echoed at the end of the play when young Malcolm, again at a moment of triumph, has, with his Uncle Siward’s 10,000 troops, defeated the usurper, Macbeth, reclaiming his father’s dynasty. However, Siward’s young son, who dared to battle one-on-one with the experienced warrior-king, Macbeth, was killed.  Though prince (now King) Malcolm and the soldier who brought the news both express condolences, Siward brushes these off and stoically declares his son “parted well and paid his score.” Knowing that the boy died “with his wounds before,” ie, facing the foe, not running away, Siward keeps his personal feelings to himself and declares that he’s proud of the boy and it’s enough that God will take care of his son.

Now, granted, it is the job of rulers and the soldiers who protect them to uphold patriotic death as the noblest sacrifice.  But clearly the repetition of this theme at the beginning and end of the play signals that Shakespeare is trying to tell us something.

Was it: Live so that you have no regrets at the moment of your death?

Or: The worthiness of your whole life can be demonstrated and measured by how you conduct yourself at the moment when you recognize that death is coming?

Or: Face life as responsibly as you would face your death, so you never forget your mortality and squander the precious gift of time?

Or: Live life fully and be willing to face the consequences for everything you do (and neglect to do)?

No matter what questions seem to fit, the first answer that comes to mind is: meditation.

I’ll end this train of thought with another quote, and see my earlier blog posts for more encouragement to start or continue meditating.


Leverage your time more by spending a little more time every day imagining and a lot less time every day doing. Do a little more imagining and a little less doing. Until eventually most of what's happening is happening in the cool, calm, anticipatory state. Just imagine yourself into the successes, and watch what happens. Imagine a little more and act a little less.  

                                                                                                  – Abraham Hicks