Hello again everybody!
Sorry I haven't been keeping up with my postings. The truth is that I've been struggling to keep my workaholic tendencies from eating me alive in my new job. I haven't been good about keeping in touch with any of the new and wonderful friends I made during my hiatus; my eDating has ground to a halt as I've run out of time or energy to even look at my various INBOXs; and I have been unable (unwilling?) to spend the time it takes to maintain the basic standards of femininity. I'm due for a manicure, a haircut and an eyebrow shaping. While I'm not one plagued with a uni-brow, I just look better when my brows are well-manicured. I think I'll shave my legs today so that I can wear a skirt this week, but that too has fallen by the weigh-side as I've tried to play super-executive at work.
Now that I think of it, the most unrealistic aspects of the "Super Woman" character are not her powers, or even her enormous bust. Instead, I contend, the most unrealistic part of the myth is that such a woman can save the world and still manage to keep her legs shaved. Even Superman has blue tights that obscure his leg hair and a cape that allows him to hide the inability to make it to the gym regularly, as he holds down a demanding career as a journalist and an avenger. Why must women be held to such higher standards?
Speaking of superheros, I have to relate my favorite "man who thinks he's a superhero" anecdote. I'll begin by saying that I have no evidence that this really happened but, as Oprah would say, (at least if James Frey were telling the story,) it's a story that has an "emotional truth." (I wrote this paragraph before Oprah's now infamous dressing down of Frey on National TV for lying to her and the world.) Nonetheless, here it is:
Once, when flying on a jet, Muhammad Ali is reported to have given a flight attendant some good-natured trouble. After going through the seat-belt instruction, an attendant noticed that Ali had still not buckled his belt.
"Sir," she said, "Please buckle your seat-belt."
Ali replied, "Superman don't need no seat-belt!"
The flight attendant, unfazed, paused for a moment, and countered, "Superman don't need no plane!"
Ali obediently complied with her request.
The reason I love this story, whether or not it's true, is that it serves as a reminder that I'm kidding myself whenever I think I am invincible. I know that many people, especially women, are often deluged with messages that are intended to make them question their ability to accomplish that which is well within their reach. I am no exception. I have had many tell me I was doomed to fail at achievements, which are now proudly under my belt. Nonetheless, the drive necessary to meet goals deemed beyond one's reach, can sometimes override balance. To counter this anecdote in my own personal mythology, I turn to a dream I once had. In this dream, I had the notion that I was, in fact, dreaming. I believe these are called "lucid" dreams. Since I believed in this dream that I was in a dream, I quickly realized that the normal limitations of such annoying forces as gravity were no longer applicable to me. In response, I turned to the man standing beside me, (who in the dream was a friend, but not someone who specifically corresponded to one person in my waking life,) and I said, "We're dreaming."
He looked at me as though frogs had just spontaneously generated out of my mouth and, had started jumping around the room.
Crossing his arms in disbelief, he looked at me and said, "What are you talking about?"
"No really, I think we're in a dream and can do anything we want."
"Well, we're not, and we can't," he said with conviction.
"Well, I think we are...why don't we just test it?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, if we are dreaming, then we can fly...so let's try to fly.... If we can fly, then we'll know we are dreaming."
With his arms still crossed in disbelief, he laughed at my incredulous assertion.
Still confident, but unwittingly stifled by his skepticism, I repeated my suggestion that we try to fly and insisted that we were in a dream.
Once he saw in my expression that I was not kidding, he looked at me sternly, as if he were a father chiding a child not to lie.
"No we're not," he said severely.
"Yes we are!" I shot back adamantly.
With that I lifted my arms toward the sky, and tried with all my might to lift myself into the air. When I fly in dreams, it's is an ability that somehow rises from my core...kinda like swimming in the air. Well, as I looked at my friend, and searched for the power to fly from within, it was to no avail. All my certainty and verve began to wither in the face of his disparagement. Defeated, I sat down and accepted the limitations of a gravity that did not really exist.
I had that dream in my mid-twenties. Since that time, I have always tried to make sure that the forces that bind me are real and not imagined. As a metaphor for my waking life, this dream reminds me that, sometimes when I am told I cannot do something, the only reason I can't, is because I've bought into the idea that I can't. Of course I could have flown in that dream. How many times in my waking life have I been capable of flying, but haven't, because others have considered it absurd that I even try? Unfortunately, as in the dream, it is sometimes difficult to know what is possible and what is futile. Advances in this world come from both men and women endeavoring to do that which has never been done before. When are their efforts in vain? Think of the Wright brothers who actually believed they could fly, contrary to the conventional wisdom of the time. Fortunately, they never let the doubt of others keep them from their dream of flying.
As Orville Wright once so aptly put it, "If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance."
So these are my internal struggles. On one side, I try to remember that I cannot fly; on the other, I try to remember that I can in my dreams.