Monday, November 9, 2009
The Pursuit of Happiness
Firstly apologies abound for my silence last week. Truth be told- I am silent only when I sleep and even there amidst the slumber- I have been known to chat up the pillow. This if course is according to my beloved- if you have doubts- take them up with him.
Excuses, excuses- I was busy, I was tired. Yes, I could blame the swine flu (hell everyone is) - and yes- I will eventually, "bite that bullet" and post a witty banter about the vaccination debate that seems to the topic of conversation among so many. We have grown weary of discussing the weather, the economy and the yes, it must be said.... movies and the spring collections have been, well, downright disappointing. One must have an opening line at the upcoming holiday parties and so "are you vaccinated?" is as good a question as "How are the kids?".
But let's ascend from the swine trough for just another week... I have another chip on my shoulder pad that must be shared...
My longtime girlfriend- and she truly is a good one emailed me today, and really this became the inspiration for the following entry. Firstly my girlfriend.... she really does exist (I am not just using my own agenda here- truth be told- this entire experience is my own agenda so I need not pretend, n'est pas?), and she is one of those REAL women- beautifully flawed who celebrates her fabulousness in such a real way that you can't help but join the parade. All that and she has a British accent- which I do maintain, automatically adds an element of sophistication to her wit. She has mastered the art of what I would call "cynical optimism" - she has the capacity for hope- but it is grounded in such a way that even the best nihilist fells compelled to come along for the ride without sacrificing his belief system to the core. Maybe it's her unassuming "live and live" attitude or maybe it's that despite life's kicks to her soul- she has found the right place to put things. Maybe it's just the accent and the fact that she has trained her daughter how to behave in the best restaurants (seriously- at four years of age- this child was better than most blind dates) that endears me to her- regardless... we don't speak often, we live in different cities and we usually connect more by chance than anything but for whatever it is worth- our friendship works.
So I was perplexed when her latest email told the tale of women who secretly want things and are paralyzed to act. You know who you are ladies- you, in the back row- who wants great skin but falls asleep with a full set of makeup on. You, my dear girl, who wants a day to herself but agrees instead to help plan your girlfriend bridal shower. You, who has not seen a movie without a seven year old since before that seven year old was made but continues to allow her progeny to chose her entertainment. When will the madness end? When will we as women take what we want in life? Why do we as women, sit and wish? What it is about our makeup that forces us to want and want and then fail to make things happen? Why are we paralyzed by our desires for things that we don't have?
Industries have come and gone all in the name of a woman's need for that which she does not have. Fashion (and no I am not mocking fashion), beauty, fitness, those organizational stored that sell you just the right boxes to put all your crap in so you appear organized..... it is all in the name of that which we COVET.
I have looked for the right psychological study.... but I think it is much simpler.... I blame Barbie- Yes, 1956 Barbie.... the bitch had everything. She had any job she wanted (doctor, lawyer, secretary, model, hairdresser and ballerina), she had Ken, she had several multiracial best girlfriends, a phenomenal closet and a pink camper van. This "woman" was our generation's cultural icon. She fulfilled our every fantasy. We went to school, did our chores, ate our vegetables, drank our milk and then we spent hours upon hours playing with Barbie- and she was everything we could not be.
Then we grew up and we gave away the fantasy. We stopped dressing up and started dressing down. We pack up the pink camper van and bought green minivans. We lost sight of the friends and settled for members of the PTA and work colleagues. We became buried under work and obligations, kids and playgroups and accessorizing was just that- an accessory.
So now we lie in bed at night- faces full of MAC concealer and wonder where the perfect skin has gone? We watch Oprah and Ellen. We hope they will shed the light. We comb self help book isles for answers that allude us. What happened to the dream? Why can't I get what I want? Why am I paralyzed but that which I want? Why do I sabotage my dreams?
It is quite simple dear cyber sisters... we have lost the skill to dream. We have forgotten HOW to just dream. It has become about that which we can touch, feel, taste. How many of you have been to an art gallery lately? Just walked through the place and looked at pretty things without ever the hope of owning them? Instead we go to home and garden shows and dream about how a couch will look in our living rooms. We have lost the joy in the act of wishing. Now wishing has to be about the result.
When I played with my Barbie in my basement- every day was different.... Did I honestly think I was going to be all the things that Barbie was? Hell no. But I dreamed the dream, gave up the ghost and then was called up for dinner.... I moved on. I flexed my "fantasy muscles".
So here's what I think has happened... in the pursuit of the life, we have become too task oriented. We have lost the pure art of play and so instead of enjoying the dream itself we find misery in the wish itself. We have poisoned ourself with wanting and forgotten how easy some things can be. We have learned to fear change, relish routine and embrace the misery that comes with it... all shadowed in a convenient theory of responsibility.
I am not suggesting we all leave our lives, buy a Barbie and start over.... My solution is quite simple... You want great skin? Wash your damn face! If you skin still sucks, it is yet another thing you can blame your mother for. You want to see a good movie? Hire a sitter- leave the kids for two hours every two to three weeks and go see a flick BY YOURSELF.... it truly is emancipating.
You want more time to yourself? Lock the bathroom door. Stop wanting the simple things in life. THOSE things are attainable. Don't poison the dream with big words and talk shows. Keep it simple. We are women... get the job done efficiently and stop the chatter. It's time the sisterhood reclaimed our greatest talent- the capacity for wonder. Cherish the ability to dream big and save the real dreaming for the important stuff.... a malibu camper with pink wheels and the perfect taffeta ballgown.