The Digital Journalist
December 2006

by Beverly Spicer

English author Horace Walpole said that life is a tragedy for those who feel, but a comedy for those who think. Who among us doesn't understand what that means, but who has not also laughed and cried at the same time? Shakespeare's play, All's Well That Ends Well, is technically a comedy, but since it is not easily classified as a comedy or tragedy, it is considered to be what critics call one of his "problem plays." These problem plays comprise several of Shakespeare's works, including All's Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure, and Troilus and Cressida, and to a lesser degree some others such as Hamlet, The Winter's Tale and The Merchant of Venice. According to an anonymous writer in Wikipedia, "problem plays shift violently between dark, psychological drama and more straightforward comic material," hence creating a confusing situation where comedies are dark and tragedies are vague and bewildering, and neither is easily assigned to a traditional category.

Shapeshifting, where one form morphs into another in an unsettlingly subliminal transformation, can be seen in many forms. We are kept off balance as both comic absurdity and tragic circumstances in the world increase and our rational sensibilities are challenged by unfolding events. Like characters in a play appearing in different acts and new costumes, our leaders replace their worst advisors and rename unpopular tactics while policy remains consistent and continuous, creating problematic theater for us all. The result is a fictitiously spawned roller-coaster ride through a real-life troubling drama, and we don't know whether to laugh or cry.

We humans often don't know what to think or feel, but something most of us can agree upon are our sentiments concerning animals. They fascinate and inspire us; we learn from their behavior and we treasure them. And we hate to see them suffer. With the thought "all's well that ends well" in mind, watch the touching rescue of over 100 horses that were perilously stranded by flood waters last month in Holland. This video clip made me think not only of the horses, but also of the populations of people around the world, stranded by circumstances beyond their control.

There are other inspiring stories of animal rescue captured in digital memory and floating around cyberspace. If the last video clip touched your heart and made you feel, the next one about CPR given to a chicken will make you laugh out loud. Many thanks to NBC, Jay Leno, and Google Video.

The animal kingdom consists of species with natural animosity for each other as well as those with a natural affinity, just like we see between people of different societies, tribes, and cultures. Every now and then there emerges a coexistence or symbiosis that is surprising, defies logic, and breaks all the rules. The following two examples of unexpected harmony between natural foes beg the metaphorical mind and heart to think and feel in accord, and with pure delight. Click on the images for more of each.


Living well is the proverbial best revenge, but in the end, living in harmony may be even better. All is well that ends well.

© Beverly Spicer

Beverly Spicer is a writer, photojournalist, and cartoonist, who faithfully chronicled The International Photo Congresses in Rockport, Maine, from 1987 to 1991. Her book, THE KA'BAH: RHYTHMS OF CULTURE, FAITH AND PHYSIOLOGY, was published in 2003 by University Press of America. She lives in Austin.