True to form, I’ve been pondering much like my good friend, Virginia Woolf pondered her personal plight of womanhood in A Room of One’s Own. I thought I’d give her essays a re-read after watching a movie which referenced her work. I’ve just been all artsy lately (in my own head) so I figured that I’d give it a go to see if there are any more feminist tidbits I can extract from it now that I’m older; the will to do so also now independent of a classroom assignment. Perhaps I wanted to delve into this more deeply because I sense a rebirth of my own. Season change always does this to me, so if I’m boring, skip to one of my earlier, funnier posts. I’m just feeling a mite introspective as of late.
Age of Innocence Gone:
Who’s to say when these chapters in a traditional woman’s life open up? I just know that I haven’t blogged in awhile. I’ve been reviewing my journals, taking note of my history (an eye-opening experience I assure you).
The Road is Led by Three Blind Mice:
When Virginia Woolf writes about a road, she speaks of Headingley; a road that turns off to another road which literally (and figuratively) lead to self-awareness. The winding metaphor to describe my life is fitting, so I use the image again to capture my own journey (ugh! I hate to use this Oprah-ish word). Unfortunately, the word journey can be taken to mean any road an individual is on that leads them to a clearer understanding of how the world works around them. Again, I hate to be self-involved but it’s kinda where I am right now–so bear with me.
Television provokes thought:
My first example is of a seemingly superfluous medium: television. Every week I watch a program called Mad Men. Every week I am compelled to comment on it. For those who have never watched an episode, I’ll provide a brief synopsis:
So far this season has been a railroad station of activity. Our anti-hero, Don Draper (played by John Hamm) has run amok living out a playboy lifestyle, winning awards and disdain from his co-workers all while delicately balancing his strange alternate life which keeps on springing up. Now that his confidante / pseudo wife Anna Draper has died, his ex-wife Betty has re-married, his daughter has been caught doing naughty grown-up things, and his replacement secretary has died; viewers find that the speed of Don’s life spinning out of control is what’s so satisfying. It sparks weekly episode updates and online debates over some strong themes. It also provokes historical accounts of the era and exchanges about our modern world views. Are we so different now?
Although Don Draper’s development is the meat-and-potatoes of the show, I am way more interested in the lives of the women in the mad man’s world.
First, there’s Peggy. She like Don, has a lot of secrets to keep. Her feminine role re-invention has only proved that her ability to be like one of the boys. She’s proven that she can, like a man, leave behind the role of mother and wife to pursue her career. By doing so, though, she is overruled, critiqued, and directly challenged by men who view her as only a tough broad who can handle the insults and attacks from week to week…our current views of the glass-ceiling.
Then, there’s Joan. She’s a woman who wants it all: work, family, friends. But beneath her calm, cool, collected exterior is a woman who wants to be taken care of. Her personal challenges? A husband who has not met her expectations, a long-standing sexual history with one of her bosses, and other women who usurp her authority (albeit accidentally). Her child-like girly-girl fantasy of Monroe-era office politics doesn’t help to break the glass-ceiling. She’s sharp; but she’s limited. Her feminine wiles have only served to order the neophyte secretaries around and to request a clean conference room. Far from days at the old Sterling Cooper, Joan must start from the bottom-up to gain new respect and ensure her place as Queen Bee.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is Betty, Don’s ex-wife. She–unlike her corporate world counterparts–is not concerned by the frivolity of her life. She continues on as she always has, forcing a square peg in a round hole to maintain her fantasy life. Guided by her predictable new husband, she is unphased by her troubled children.
This week, the closing scene summed up the season with a clever triad of women in the workplace.
So What’s Your Point?
The point is that I tune in to a television show on a weekly basis because I’ve been wanting to feel good. I am thoroughly entertained by other means, but this show is a perfect example of meaning found in the most ordinary places.
Daily, I’ve been waiting, meandering through my life to see what kind of dramatic turn it would take to justify suffering. Unfortunately, there’s no quick-fix or salve that could make any wound better.
Sounds bleak, right? Well, here’s the good news that will sound extremely corny. It’s true, though…
Wonderful miracles exist that are–in all conventional ways–unexplainable: laughter, love, dance. These unexpected accidents of human nature (along with kindness, friendship, etc.) often happen without our notice. They exist around every corner and can be found where we least expect them.
Now, don’t get me wrong. In equal measure, there’s a movement of resentment, an obsession with the macabre and the darkness within. I get it. Perhaps some of us need to expel those “evil” thoughts so that we can truly feel clean. But this is a double-edged sword, I’m afraid. If we constantly swim in the pool of sorrow, then depression is soon to follow.
How broken must we be that we gravitate toward the strange, the sad, the downright ugly to feel fulfilled? Is it really necessary to delve into the deepest depths to rise again? Or is this just a fabricated need sprung from past transgressions, guilt, anger, hurt? Is it a real place we need to visit over an over?
Where All Roads Lead:
The road to Headingley requires thought. It is an acceptance of all the real events that make up the world as we see it. It is not the persistence of a fantasy, but the reality that we create for ourselves. It isn’t an easy route. But hopefully, by bearing with it’s twists and turns, we can come out on the other side of the road unscathed. That–at least–is worth a walk through the woods…isn’t it?