That indeed is the question.
I could write a whole book in this, and I probably will, but not right now.
Stop and think for a minute – how many times do you and I find ourselves faced with that question?
Because unlike the Prince of Denmark’s case this is not a ‘one off’ event.
The thing is, it’s not just about ‘to be’.
“What are you going to be when you grow up?”
I was frequently, and annoyingly, asked this during my childhood, by my parents, grandparents and other adult relatives.
It was like an interrogation. It seemed that I was expected to know the answer. I can’t have been much more than five at the time, how was I expected to know that?
So I came up with one of the expected answers of the ay, things that seemed romantic like ‘engine driver’ (the age of steam) or ‘airline pilot’, even ‘racing driver’ (an early interest in F1).
Until one day when it all changed.
I had developed what was known as a ‘squint’ which we know call astigmatism and I was ‘condemned’ to wear glasses.
The optician actually said to me “well you can never be an airline pilot” – which might at the time have been true along with a whole raft of other occupations forbidden to anyone whose sight was not ‘perfect’.
My horizons were severely cut back that day and I was only six!
In the play, Hamlet is pondering on life. ‘To be’ means ‘to live’ in this context, and in reality Shakespeare is correct. To be is to be who you are, to live your life as you wish it, to ‘be’ the best ‘you’ possible.
But with ‘be’ comes some other things, notably to ‘do’ and to ‘have’ and once you or I ‘get there’, where we wish to ‘be’ the cycle restarts.
Until that time when we have the ‘Hamlet conversation’ contemplating whether we have ‘been’ all we wish to be and it’s ‘time to go’ as we have reached the pinnacle of our ‘be-ing’, the furthest horizon we can envisage.
But most times when we achieve our ‘to be’, which might be called a ‘Dream’, Vision’ or ‘C-Goal’ (for students of Bob Proctor); once we have achieved our purpose we more often than not find another one pops up as we continue to evolve in our be-ing.
Our ‘to Be’ is our purpose and is constantly changing because we continually, if we are living our lives with intent, look for the next level of being, doing and having.
We are continually thinking.
We think at three levels: with our conscious, subconscious and superconscious minds, the latter being our spiritual or ‘Soul’ mind from where comes many of the ideas, intuitions and ‘sparks’ that set us of on a new track.
Or, on the wrong track.
You see, as individuals we have our own unique track, our ‘Way’.
But the trouble is that others keep attempting to drag us off it, onto ‘their’ Way. They want us to be like them, agree with them, and believe that if others are not supporting and joining in on their way then they won’t be able to be who they wish to be.
This is conscious mind thinking and revolves around the third/fourth dimensional interface.
It’s not spiritual thinking – inspirational thinking, that shows us our Way, and it’s not taking account of subconscious thinking that goes on in the background, often muttering ‘hang on a minute are you sure you’re doing the right thing?’
When we ‘borrow’, buy into or are persuaded of other people’s ideas and purposes, other peoples ‘Way’, then we lose our own.
There is some of this in Hamlet’s soliloquy, it’s about be-ing part of someone else, not be-ing yourself.
By the time I’d reached ten I’d decided not to buy in to the optician’s predictions and be whatever I wished to be. Nowadays I could have had treatment so that I wouldn’t need to wear glasses or could wear contact lenses but I’m so used to them I feel almost naked without them.
Besides which I look really weird in photos where I’m not wearing them and thankfully, I can’t see myself properly in the mirror without them!
You and I are who we think we are, we become (come to be) who we wish, in our thought, to be.
“Cogito, ergo sum” I think, therefore I am – was how Descartes put it.
You and I think ourselves into be-ing whoever and whatever we wish to be – and then some.
So, as they say round here – “Think on’t”