One does not have to be a student of Shakespeare to quote him now and then. People often do it without knowing it. For example, “Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,With what I most enjoy contented least.” My mother, in Midwestern fashion, had a simpler way of saying it: “Sometimes we don’t know when we’re well off.”
Our problem usually comes when we try to do an inventory of another’s resources. We generally miss badly on this because what we know is usually what is displayed in the living room, that is, the things that are meant to
be seen. I was a pastor for only a short time when I learned that there are skeletons in everyone’s closets. I learned, too, that no life is without pain. The pain is more evident in some cases than in others. Everyone gets a share, however, because death comes to all; one or another of life’s distresses eventually calls our name.
Our biggest problem as we envy “this [person’s] art and that [person’s] scope” is our standard of evaluation. There is more to life than a good balance sheet, winning an election, or having fifteen minutes of fame. We need to know what matters. As my mother would say, we need to know when we are well off.