That is what grabbed me mid Sunday afternoon with a football game in the background. It was the title of a rather intriguing contemplation, from an author I normally cringe at the thought of reading what she will say next, Naomi Wolf; but this time, color me surprised -- and pleasantly, I might add.
Where she really got to me was really towards the end...long after making profound comparisons of Freud, neuroscience, Betty Friedan -- and The Feminine Mystique (1963), and that of Simone de Beauvoir -- and The Second Sex (1949) ...all chiming in with their own morning alarm "that women too possessed selves that were not defined by others..."
Naomi intermingled relationship with ourselves, the world, and specifically, the last forty years, answering to a study that found women to be "less happy" now than before woman's lib; she didn't want to believe it herself, and low and behold, set out to disprove the findings, or at the very least, try to understand the why and comprehend the how.
Of course, for this American Girl, it wasn't until she rounded about to the discussion of happiness itself -- what is it, and how it might be defined, when -- of all things -- she turns to the founders for a little help. As she explains in short history first, the Declaration of Independence which pronounces one of America's most treasured beliefs, as evident by what we might find here, in streets paved of gold, I'm sure -- is the timeless phrase of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Naomi immediately addresses the fact that this patriotic tidbit, this "promise of America," is far from being "personal" -- no, no -- and she is right on the money here. She goes on saying,
"personal gratification is not what happiness meant in the eighteenth century. It had much more of a connotation of the fortunate condition of using one's fullest capacities in the service of the larger good. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and even Jane Austen all use happiness in this sense...this is a nice place to start redefining."
As we come to find out, happiness rests on the shoulders of a life that is full, if not, overflowing -- and how we best manage ourselves through it with any sense of grace, reasonable dexterity, with perhaps a greater consciousness holding us all together; the modern world is a good trick to pull off, especially, if one wants to bring in the joy of parenthood, while "using one's fullest capacities in the service of the larger good."
If only we really did just that, is all I have to say.
Somehow, we complicate even the simplest of things.
"Should we consider that the very burdens of our freedom -- our having problems of our own choosing -- are gifts as well? Should we see that defining a credit card as perhaps the easiest route to happiness may have hidden costs? Should we outgrow the oppression of the very idea of "perfect"? ...Maybe you find it in spite of, not because of, cultural "happiness" scripts."
Yes, Naomi "I'm not half as afraid of you as I was before" Wolf.
I love it when the left and right meet in the middle of happy town, USA, sipping a latte and eating a gingerbread man head first. This is a good day.
Truth be told, the article is from last April! nestled in a MORE magazine, of which, I was using to craft together my own intimate collage of inspiration -- creating a muse of my own, so to speak -- in keeping with the detail of stoking my fullest capacities for the maniacal week ahead.
Let's just say, having various pots on the fire, I am being challenged in the process of maintaining the right amount of heat on one, while an unwelcome char is happening on another...while those in between, are simply not getting stirred often enough. But I'm cooking! I'm cooking up a storm! And that makes me happy.
The gift of the feminist movement is finally returning home -- with a brand spanking new Viking range waiting for you. We are coming full circle, after years of bearing false witness to the traditions that kept things simple and sane, returning to a greater understanding of how all the moving pieces of life come together successfully, not only for ourselves, in our own little world, but in the service for the larger good, is what it's all about, man. ya dig?
Black Friday and Cyber Monday does not define my America -- and certainly, to be as clear as I possibly can be, it is a far cry from defining my pursuit of happiness in my free time, as well;
I am happy, having a roof over my head, when the skies are so clear, it dips to freezing, even here in sunny, southern California.
I am happy, that my local VONS sold turkeys for $8.00 -- not by the pound -- but the whole entire bird!
I am happy, that when it came time to saying our prayers last night, my girl piped up and said "for Korea...both of them" -- and expanding on that with a question to me, asking if it was appropriate to pray for North Korea, too? To which I said, "of course, and maybe more so"...distracted by some kind of Godfather flashback in my mind, "keeping your friends close, but your enemies closer." And if the good Lord willing, maybe they will change their ways, saying a little prayer couldn't hurt (good news, free will leans both ways -- bad news, free will leans both ways).
I am happy, that I am capable of loving this world, and my country, with enough passion to heat the sun for lifetimes to come...yes, if in doubt, global warming, is all me.
I am happy, that I can create a home, and a life, that inspires me, that enlivens my spirits, to bloom wherever I'm planted; my mama taught me a lot of that, from the experience of being uprooted from time to time as wife of an officer and a gentleman -- or maybe, having dated back to the time her own childhood, her father being a contractor, who made a life building a home, living in it, selling it, and earning his keep living to the fullest of his capacities -- both men, in service to a greater good, interestingly enough.
I am happy, that when it came time for my mama to choose a career, the most important one was Mama -- having also worked in her own capacity as a teacher over the years...but when push came to shove, her primary duty was to the family, and the rearing of children, who in turn, would go out one day to make a life, living to their fullest capacity for the greater good -- and if nothing else, to do no harm.
I am happy, that I am not ashamed of living a life from faith -- similar to Naomi's sentiment of vanquishing the need for "cultural happiness," so must we awaken to the modern takeover of our faith in this world...
"...the kingdom of Christ is not of this world...The greater the difficulty, the closer it drives us to Christ. Only in Him do we find refuge. We truly become pilgrims and strangers. We carefully examine and cling to the basics of the faith. They become an anchor in the storm.
Ironically, peace and prosperity have the opposite effect. When all seems to be going well, we tend to forget that we are engaged in warfare. The intensity of faith that gets us through the tough times tends to languish when life is easy. The Church becomes assimilated into the culture and cultural Christianity replaces authentic faith. The distinctions between Church and culture become blurred."
from William Wilberforce, in a revised edition by Bob Beltz, Real ChristianityIt doesn't have to be Christian -- but God help us, let It be Something; we have lost our authenticity -- whether it be about our connection to the Creator, as maker of our free and wondrous world, and Inspiration to live to our fullest capacity for the greater good -- or in finding our own happiness. The foundation of being morally, ethically, conscientiously, and virtuously coming from a deeper place in our soul, is keeping us from being our cultural, and oh so personal best, at home and around the world.
Life in the last forty years has become so modern, so easy breezy beautiful COVERGIRL, so life in the fast lane, so I have an app for that -- whether masculine or feminine -- the roots underfoot never stood a chance.
We are dying on the vine, we are letting our children fall in between the cracks, we are not sustaining LIFE and all that is required of it, as the ever so humble, respectful, gracious servants, the pilgrims and strangers we once were.
If we don't teach our children, of the importance of all the little things that add up to a great big wonderful life, who will?
If we don't build the character inside them to become the next great something, something, who will?
If we don't stop and thank God once in awhile, that oh my gosh, look at all the people who can rush out and buy a flat screen TV the day after Thanksgiving without thinking twice about it -- or break all records today on the wide world web, because even though shipping's a hassle, it's free today...
We are about to descend into another war and we run out, stampeding over our neighbor to buy every electronic we can get our hands on? -- because if it's buy one and get one free, all the better? really?
Today, call me fickle, but I revel in a new appreciation for Naomi Wolf -- the power to live from a place of our own choosing is fundamental in this land we call America; keeping all the pots on a slow simmer, basking in the glow of a warm, inviting fire... blushing in the light of a life well satisfied and savory, sexy and saintly, is a real calling, and a huge task, requiring every bit of our full capacities in every which way to Sunday and back; a heritage where Martha Washington meets Martha Stewart, intercepted perhaps, by Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda and Gloria Steinem...but we are onto something...indeed... I can just feel it.
The pendulum is swinging -- trading the Cosmopolitan for the simple goodness of an Old Fashioned, yummy; move over MadMen, women have come into their own, again! And this time, we might just know how to have it all without losing touch with our kids, unbuttoning our blouse to the store bought boobs, or misplacing our faith (somewhere with the car keys) all before work in a career we love...and be all giddy happy about it...ah, maybe giddy is taking it a bit too far...but a girl can dream, can't she?
For we recognize, America's real bounty, is neither packaged or tied up in a bow; it is unleashed in our duty to "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" and our ability to align with that spirit of "using one's fullest capacities for the larger good," each and every one.
this reminds me of a saying birthed out of the seventies too: happiness is...
Make it a Good Day, G
My gift to you today, recipe for an OLD FASHIONED: get a short glass, drop a sugar cube to the bottom and drizzle just a wee bit of water, just enough to dissolve...add a couple hits of Angostura Bitters, an ice cube, and Bourbon Whiskey, stir. Maraschino Cherry, optional. Sip and be really happy...for awhile.