A woman cannot live on theology alone–at least not while on the elliptical machine at the gym, or on hour eleven of an international flight. In those situations, only “People” magazine [or another of its ilk] will do. This is, in no small part, why–like it or not–I tend to stay current on celebrity “news” [I use the word “news” very loosely, of course–it’s not like anyone has invaded Poland]. This may also be why I actually get invested in some of this news–kind of embarassing to admit, but there it is. This whole Katie Holmes/Tom Cruise divorce story is once such example. Here is what I have been thinking since hearing about it. [And if , sensible person that you are, you find yourself with better things to do than read “People” magazine, none of this will make any sense.]
First, some girlhood dreams should remain in one’s girlhood, and not be imported into one’s adult life. For example, when I was a young girl, I wanted to marry The Six Million Dollar Man [aka Lee Majors–and being Farrah Fawcett-Majors, or at least having her hair, would have been a bonus, I admit]. Oh sure, you may laugh, but having watched the show again, thanks to Netflix, I find he is still as suave and dreamy as a ten year old could want, even in his 1970s leisure suits. Nonetheless, I am grateful that he remains safely ensconced in my memory, where he will never age, never belch or snore, and never get into a petty fight with me over a toaster or a TV remote. The point is, not all one’s dreams of youth are meant to be realized: some exist best carefully mothballed, in a treasured corner of our mental attic. When I was a girl, I also wanted to be Wonder Woman [and I spun myself silly in the attempt], and I wanted a pet cheetah. Many, maybe even most, of the dreams that delight us as girls don’t fit us well as women.
Second, money really can’t buy happiness. Oh sure, a mountain of money is enough to bring an ever-present smirk to one’s face–the kind of knowing grin one gets when stepping out of a private plane, looking around and realizing that your handbag cost more than the entire wardrobe of the envious reporters standing around you. However, all the money in the world can’t bring to your face a wide, can’t-hold-it-in, happy-as-a-clam smile, the kind of smile you get from, say, landing a role in “Batman Begins” [as opposed to, say, a role in “Jack and Jill.”] And, at some point, you realize that you are willing to chuck it all–the nice house, fancy cars, exotic trips and expensive clothes–just to be able to smile and laugh from the heart again.
Lastly, while everyone likes to be swept off her feet by Prince Charming once in awhile–be it on a white horse or a black motorcycle–after a time, a girl wants to climb down and stand on her own well-heeled feet and walk purposely through her own life, choosing her own path, making her own mistakes, and celebrating her own victories. One can only be carried along in someone else’s arms for so long. [And surely I am not the only one who recognizes this: while I haven’t seen the movie “Brave” yet, from what I can tell, it is all about a strong, beautiful, smart princess who resists mightily the idea that she needs a Prince Charming at all. That’s a princess for the 21st century for sure.]
A recent “Atlantic Monthly” article talked about how women still can’t “have it all”–describing the impossible situation of trying to have a high-powered, successful career and raise children. Some of the specific conclusions the author makes may be debatable, but one thing that is absolutely true for all of us is that life is full of choices, and when we choose one thing, we don’t choose something else. For everything we take, there is something that is left behind–the road not taken, if you will; and often you don’t know whether you have made the right choice until it is too late. But, sometimes, you realize it with enough time to make a change, to choose again. And even though that choice, too, will come with its own costs, when you find yourself in that situation, you should do it, too.