"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: “Silver Linings Playbook”

(woman)kind . . .

DSC_0127For a long time, I’ve been thinking about how we women are, that is what separates us or makes us different from men: or mankind. For one thing, I wonder if women have really changed all that much from the days of our mothers or grandmothers. Surely, our daughters’ generation is more outspoken in their ways and in their choices, aren’t they?

At the same time, I also see many of us still putting our needs behind those of our partners, our children or our work. Sure, there are new visible women who have made it, like Sheryl Sandburg of Facebook who has just written a book counseling other women on how not to hold themselves back. Not that many have the resources that she does (help and money) to take care of children and households while forging their professional pathways in life. Will changing our body language and how we present ourselves to others make that much of a difference?

I was just reading from Anne Morrow Lindbergh‘s memoirs, “Locked Rooms and Open Doors – Diaries and Letters 1933-1935” in which she describes being terrified as Charles Lindbergh, her infamous husband, pilots their plane through a dense fog for over an hour, not speaking to her, looking for a place to land. Another one describes how she puts together a small study area for him, with his favorite books in the bookshelves, a standing lamp from the main house to create a space to please him, even though he doesn’t seem to notice when he sees it. And that’s all right with her, she says.

I don’t know, you know? Doesn’t this ring a bell like Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar-winning character in “Silver Linings Playbook” where she complains about “waking up feeling EMPTY” because she does things for others, all the time? Maybe there is a compulsion gene that is in our female DNA that propels us to do things for others in order for them to be happy (at least in our way of thinking?) Or is this just our culture from the time we were young and took care of our dolls and stuffed animals?

There’s been a fuss recently about the 50th publication anniversary of Betty Friedan’s book, “The Feminine Mystique” and columnists writing about how they miss Bella Abzug. Gloria Steinman is still being interviewed, but I never felt personally that any of them represented me during the first wave of the Feminist movement.

I still feel that our issues as women are personal to the degree that we each have things to work out based on our individual situations. And that somehow, nothing much has happened to keep ourselves from constantly wanting to please those around us, to be accepted and acceptable by those we want approval from.

Perhaps it is just part of the human condition that what we do and care about others is also likely to be taken for granted some of the time. Maybe there will never be a movement that will transform or free us because this is just the way things are. Whenever I’ve brought up these thoughts with other women, they nod their heads in recognition and say, “yeah, that’s big.” Even so, I’m glad that I have daughters and granddaughters–a woman kind of family.

Postscript: By an amazing coincidence, PBS is airing “Makers: Women Who Make America” a three-hour documentary on the women’s movement. Here is a link to the trailer:

waking up . . .

Yesterday, I took a trip to Northampton, about an hour or so from where I live, to exchange some yarn for a sweater vest that I wanted to knit for a friend. It didn’t take long to find a nicer color in a heavier weight Lopi yarn that would be more suitable for the project. There was still time to window shop at a couple of stores that I like and have a quick lunch before returning home.

On the trip out, I had thought that I might be able to get back in time to catch the matinee showing of the movie, “Silver Linings Playbook.” The movie had stirred a lot of fuss for Jennifer Lawrence, a young actress who has been nominated for an Academy Award for best actress. The leading man was Bradley Cooper, whom I don’t particularly care for, but the film also had Robert de Niro in it so I figured that would balance things out.

I was a few minutes late but the cashier lady kindly confided that the movie had great acting but was slow in the beginning and that I wouldn’t have missed much. The beginning was indeed very slow, setting the stage for why and how Bradley Cooper was struggling with himself. His character does this all through the movie, this viewer wondering off-handedly whether he would ever “get it” or at least pull himself together.

Lawrence’s character is messed up also (of course, why else could there be a plot, right?) but there was an electric moment in the movie, at least for me, which is why I am writing this post on a Sunday morning. Lawrence is yelling at Cooper, saying that she does things for everyone else all day long, all the time, and that when she wakes up in the morning, she “feels EMPTY!” Well, I can identify with that all right. In fact, I was thinking later on, that many of us women feel like we’re doing that at least some of the time, and maybe not even noticing that we’re doing it. Or that it leaves us feeling empty too.

Why is it that even when we KNOW that we’re doing it–being and doing for others, all the time–that we can’t help ourselves. Or maybe our circumstances are that if we don’t “do it,” then nobody else will. Or, maybe we should be doing for others for ourselves, right? I don’t know the answer to this but I decided when I woke up this morning that I am going to take the day off from it, maybe even a couple of days since Monday is a holiday.

Instead of pushing myself to complete projects to please others, I’m going to take a rest from knitting. Instead of thinking that I really have to put away some things and clean the birdcage or the fridge, I think I’m going to read for pleasure today. Instead of cleaning up, I’m going to stop and rest today. After all, nobody’s MAKING me do anything. It comes from inside somewhere.

Another observation offered by the movie, equally as powerful, was the portrayal of a henpecked friend of Cooper’s, trapped by his desire to please a demanding wife who insistingly wanted what seemed like more and more, running him and his life around like a drill sargent. That was the quid pro quo for men who take that heavy burden on, trapped in their silent anger in the basement or out in the garage, the equivalent of waking up feeling empty too.

This little movie can be grating and annoying at times, but it portrays how vicariously we take out our frustrations in life, wanting our favorite sports team to win for us, wanting to win our bets in life. While Jennifer Lawrence was interesting to watch, it was Robert de Niro who stole the show. I hope he wins a Best Supporting Actor Oscar next weekend.