Basketball courts across the nation have become the focus for a wide swath of the population in the month of March. Dubbed “March Madness”, the annual collegiate competition for a national basketball championship is filled with anticipation, excitement, drama, exultation and despair. This month also signals a change of seasons as we emergence from long, dark winter months into warmer, spring weather. Historically, March has been a time of change and this year appears to be no exception. The excitement and frenetic activity on the hardwood is matched by national and international financial and political stress. In addition, problems in the banking system, while limited at this time, hopefully do not portent a more severe systemic problem. It seems that every day brings a new wave of concerns that can overwhelm if allowed to dominate personal reality.
This is not a new phenomenon, rather one that repeats over time. For example, in the time of Caesar’s reign over the Roman Republic and his assassination in 44 BC., the mid-month “Ides” was the subject of Shakespeare’s popularized caution to Caesar who was warned of danger during the Ides of March. Ignoring advice to avoid Senate chambers, he paid the ultimate price. His demise, however, ushered in an era of relative peace in the Roman Empire.
Currently, the ides of March remain a time of transition and uncertainty. Emerging from the shadow of the pandemic, significant economic and political challenges echo Shakespeare’s warning to Caesar. Budget projections are filled with caveats that, despite a strong economy, persistent inflation and geopolitical concerns sprinkled with missteps by several banks close to home and in foreign lands.
National debates and looming political campaigns foreshadow chaos in major political parties – we cannot dismiss the possibility of local equivalents. As with the passing of Caesar in his time, the truth of any result is in the eye of the beholder. Declaring that patterns will change is not a reliable option but supporting and setting realistic goals can provide a good chance of realizing expectations. The Ides is a good time to enjoy the madness on basketball courts but pause and examine our inventory of choices, essential for the physical and mental wellbeing of our communities.