July 3, 2015- I encountered two online posts by women, today. One was a TED Talk, by a fashion model. The other was a blog post by a young friend, part of her ongoing exploration of who, and what, she is.
We thrive on the superficial, many of us, because it seems easier. Men ogle attractive females, from girls not even old enough to drive a car, or hold down a job to those women deemed by society to have “preserved well with age.” Women have their share of “Magic Mike” and Chippendales moments. There is not much difference, in such as we do in that regard, from a trip to the zoo. Now, to fend off any troll who may be sharpening his rhetorical knife as he reads this- Yes, I have had my share of such superficiality.
It’s time to move up the evolutionary scale, a few notches, however. I was married to a physically lovely woman, with a winsome personality, who was also several points higher than I, in terms of intelligence. Since she passed on, my friendships with women have been varied. In each case, I have learned to place their sense of self-worth, first and foremost. I was not a perfect husband, but Penny taught me that much about friendship across the much vaunted Gender Divide. We were best friends, as well as spouses. Anticipation of the other’s needs is part of it, and direct communication, another.
Of the utmost importance, though, as the young model and my blogging friend both attest, is that there is always more, far more, to any given human being, than the pretty face, lithe figure and statuesque bearing that seem to mean so much, to so many in society. I thought of this, constantly, during a recent visit to Spokane. As I walked from my motel to downtown, I passed a billboard featuring the singer/actress Taylor Swift. The ad stressed her features, and makeup. My immediate thought was “There is so much more to you than this, precious soul.”
Those dismissed as “eye candy” may buy into that shallow assessment. The human spirit, however, is a hard taskmaster. A pigeonholed person will act in restless fashion, and will either: Seek attention in unhealthy ways; will meekly submit and then fade into obscurity, as the feckless lose interest; or will, as the late, and estimable, Hedy Lamarr did, combine a healthy respect for her natural beauty with a vigourous pursuit of her intellectual skills. The same is true for men, though on a lesser scale.
The closest of my friends, both female and male, are those with whom I can carry on meaningful conversation, can engage in interesting activities or just sit in one another’s presence, each doing what is foremost in their personal realm. The key is mutual regard, a belief in the ability of the friend to reach whatever heights one’s soul seeks and a willingness to let go of limiting personal agendas. There are those in my life, conversely, who are often calculating what I might do FOR them. They see little of me. I have enough to do, to pay back those who have shown me great kindness, but that’s a topic for another post.
To each, falls the task of scaling one’s own mountain, and triumphantly setting foot on one’s own moon.