Have you ever thought about the strangeness of the words “once upon a time?”
I recently finished reading Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” and it was amazing. If you haven’t read it, it’s about this guy Prospero whose brother stranded him on an island so that he could take his place as the duke of Milan (pretty sleazy guy). But years later Prospero uses his magic powers to strand the brother, king, king’s son, and a lot of other people on the island through a crazy storm (i.e. tempest) in order to seek revenge!! Plus there’s romance and a “monster” and all kinds of good stuff. It’s an awesome play I’d definitely recommend checking out! (Although I initially picked it up because I really wanted to read Margaret Atwood’s book “Hagseed” which is heavily based on it…another book I would definitely recommend, especially for fans of stories within stories (within stories…).)
The version I was using for Shakespeare’s play had footnotes that explained the confusing/weird words, and one of the explanations caught my eye. Stephano, one of the guys newly stranded on the island, says at one point:
“I was the man i’ the moon when time was”
The footnote translated “when time was” as “once upon a time,” and I love it. It sounds so mysterious, otherworldly, enchanting. It made me consider how easy it can be to not actively think about familiar phrases like “once upon a time” and other idioms (like the ones I talked about in Top 20 Ridiculous Idioms and 10 More Ridiculous Idioms).
That started me thinking about music, of course, too. Most of the time I’m so busy singing along with pop songs that I don’t really listen to the different instruments supporting the voice or even the singer’s voice itself. But when I do really zoom in while listening it’s amazing what I’ve never heard before. Each instrument or sound really adds to the song, even when I’m not actively thinking about it–just like the specific combination and choice of words in a story. Of course, I’m still going to sing along with music most of the time and not always listen super closely, and I’m not going to dwell on every single minuscule word of a story. And that’s totally okay. But it’s also cool to recognize the details that usually lie below the surface by consciously bringing them to the surface!
So what’s the coolest phrase or detail you’ve read in a book or heard in music? Let me know in the comments below!!