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The Tides of Opportunity

It's this idea which Shakespeare emphasizes in the fourth act of Julius Caesar, when he puts these words upon the lips of Brutus trying to enlist Cassius in his aid. (Note how Shakespeare speaks of the power of the tides and then adds another serious consideration concerning them.) He writes:

There is a tide in the affairs of men

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyages of their life

Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat

And we must take the current when it serves

Or lose our ventures.

What Shakespeare is saying is not only that the tides have great power, but that they also are irretrievable, unstoppable, unrecallable. Their lifting strength comes for but a few hours and then is gone. And if you miss the flood, you will be left in shallows and in miseries, having lost your ventures.

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