As one of the more glorious characters, if in name only, of famed 16th-century English playwright and wicked-smart social commentator William Shakespeare, Dick the Butcher proclaims in the 1591 play “Henry VI”: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Disputed for years as to whether Mr. Butcher intended to do away with the ilk of those who’d represented his spouse in a contentious divorce proceeding, or if the line, specifically aimed at corrupt barristers, meant to separate the good from the bad, it is clear that a priority order is being proclaimed and that such an order demands a first and definitive step.
We humans maintain full and complex lives filled with full and complex activities. We survive by adroit management of both the critical and the trivial. The simple choice to stand still at a curb to await the expected passing of a coming city bus, while in itself almost absent-minded, would, if improperly executed, significantly change or even end our lives. If the simple is crucial, could we imagine that the complex is inconsequential? Perhaps.
Sure, one must find balance between these priorities. Yet, is equilibrium sufficient? Can we successfully lead our lives absent strict priorities? What comes first, above all others? Then, is there a second? Can the second replace the first – even once or only for a moment? No doubt, some priorities will change with the season as others stand immovable in the stream. Still, are we amply informed about the arrangement of our own primacies? Do we follow a plan? If so, what is our strategy? Is it current? Do we order our day to meet its demands? Or, would it be more honest to admit we react as the world comes at us? Should our priority be getting prioritized?