Imagine that

Before I even turn the first page of a novel, I have to find the appropriate actor or actress to fill the part.  So many screenplays are now adapted from best-selling novels, so a trip to IMDB often suffices.  Why do we need those individuals in our mind’s eye?  Lets be honest now, they aren’t hard to look at either.

When I first read “Fifty shades of Grey” they were still casting for the roles so I was lucky enough to have my own image remain intact.  As many of you know, the book started as a fan fiction that was written for Bella and Edward from Twilight.  Well that’s easy then because you just have to imagine Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson playing some emotional and physical games.  Done.  As soon as the trailer for the actual movie was released though, my illusions were shattered and I knew I would never see the film.

First off, I personally do not know what the big scandal is with consensual BDSM.  To put it bluntly, it’s just what gets you off.  Some people like to be called sweetheart, others, well, prefer something else.  As long as it’s between two consenting adults, it’s none of our business.  We clearly have two very public instances of when it’s not alright, like when you slap a woman on the side of her head because you’re a quasi Canadian celebrity, or when you drug women to rape them.  That is not okay.

Returning to “Fifty shades” though, the casting was particularly disappointing because of the aesthetic.  I don’t think I’m being particularly superficial here since film-making is built on the principle of finding representatives to tell a story; part of that is how they look and carry themselves.  As soon as Jamie Dornan came on the screen I knew that he was too attractive and well, Dakota Johnson was a bit too sweet.  The appeal of Robert Pattinson is that he’s slightly dirty and disheveled but can still pull off a suit better than most men because he of his edge.  His history of participating in the underground London scene with all that it entails, including the substance abuse and complicated sexual pairings, somehow just is part of his physicality.  Similarly with Kristen Stewart, she doesn’t look like every other girl that you went to high school with.  Her features and personal style are a bit more unusual and couture.  She’s different and has an infuriatingly bratty attitude that you know would attract a damaged control freak like Christian Grey.

Though the writing is obviously not going to win a Pulitzer, the novel has its own market and appeal.  For all those people assuming that it’s only stifled housewives who are buying it, your thoughts are sexist and demeaning towards individuals who raised you.  Their free labour is in one of the hardest and most under-appreciated sectors in society.  Secondly, everyone has fantasies and it doesn’t make them a bad person.  There is nothing to be ashamed of.  A high-horse on the other hand is nothing to be proud of.

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Bend it

Whatever would we have done without our 20s?  Those glorious days when we had the opportunity to be bad, chase boys, be irresponsible and then make our way home.  All within reason of course.  Initially I was going to say within the limits of not hurting people but who are we kidding, we hurt plenty of people in those days.  Most of us just attribute it to the process of growing up and I’m pretty sure that no one is holding onto those slights.  I would hope that we are all over it.

But seriously though, how can you possibly make your way towards being a semi-whole person without that time to falter a bit while still trying hard to be good?  How can you determine what your values specifically are without testing the boundaries?  How do you know what you will and will not stand for without witnessing first hand what you and others are capable of?  How do you function without the ability to not be a judgmental brute?

And you know what, maybe those who never participated were always more sure of themselves than the rest of us.  I’m pretty sure that they were busy winning awards and their names were honored at convocation.  Seriously, congratulations on working so hard.  No, seriously, that type of discipline is often more valuable than actual talent.  But I do hope that you were just not afraid of what other people might think or what punishment you’d receive for breaking the rules.  Because if that is the case, you might have missed out on an integral life phase too.  Judging by the careers of my friends and peers we made it out alright too, non?

You know when you need this “wild” time the most?  You need it when you’ve learned to reign it it, or as my favorite blogger and media personality Lainey would say, when you’ve learnt to “sit down.”  Because there will be plenty of occasions in life when you have to be the more honorable person and behave with grace and dignity.  There will be times when you’ll be called on to be selfless and put the well-being of your family above your own.

These thoughts and others are what I ruminated on a lot when I was in the early months as a first-time mother.  The lack of experience with babies drove me, a perfectionist, absolutely crazy.  I like to be prepared and sorry to say that this is the one time when you kind of just have to learn as you go.  I also have always liked to have my own space and my own time, which are the very first things that go.  Suddenly, you have someone who depends on you all the time.  Funnily enough, when my calling came to give it all, I thought about the times when I was the most selfish.  As strange as it sounds, this integral phase when I had to diminish my wants, at least for a little while, was made easier because I already had had that time to be free.

So many people are petrified of raising girls.  I’ve heard it said again and again, about how a girl would be nice but they would be so much harder later.  As many of you know, I grew up mainly with women since even in a large family where both my parents had four other siblings, everyone inherited daughters but one.  I say that we are blessed.  Observing all of my cousins I am proud that we are so different but all found a way to use our talents to callings that we love.  I’m so honored to be amongst women who stayed true to themselves.  So, I don’t fear raising a daughter.  I think she could do worse than a woman who was trained academically and by life to be a feminist.  Because, due to my politics I believe in her gender equality.  Part of that gender equality is faith in her personhood and belief in my chance to help instill good values that she can always return to.  I have the best parents.  Trust me, we always come back.

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Like

I always tell my son that he has to try liking everyone, with try being the operative word.  I’m sure it’s common practice to say to most toddlers, whose worlds are very literal and often black and white, that they have to like everyone.  Well, I don’t really believe that.  Do you like everyone?  I imagine someone with a fake smile plastered on their face, a smile that never really reaches their eyes.  Frankly, it kind of creeps me out.  But I do emphasize making the effort to like someone because it is our duty to behave respectfully towards everyone, there is no alternative to that.  Plus, having different personalities in our lives are an important part of growing as individuals.

Don’t you find though that there are some people whom you will never really connect with?  No matter what they do it’s your first instinct to react, and react with varying levels of negativity.  My husband says that it’s very much a lens and one that was built over a history of misunderstandings.  It’s like having Instagram on all the time and on one of those filters that distorts and make everything a bit unattractive.  To some, having this type of relationship would bother them.  They would start to examine how they were being judgmental or unkind.  Of course some of that comes into play but I also consider how the other person, intentionally or not contributed to the situation.  So, what can you do?  I mostly try to lessen the impact of these toxic connections on my life because it’s just too exhausting to manage those negative emotions.

Sometimes though, you don’t have a choice in the matter and these are relationships that may be life-long.  No matter what, this person will be a part of your existence.  So, you have two choices: you can try to change how you feel about them or you can put some distance between the two of you.  In the end there’s only so much you can do to eliminate frictions that result from having different approaches and values.  As vanilla as it sounds we tend to gravitate towards individuals with similar experiences and outlooks.  I don’t even think it’s malicious, conversation just tends to form more easily with some more than others.  I say, lets not stress about it but allow ourselves to be particular.  Let’s not fight.

A prominent guru Ram Dass states that “If you think you are enlightened, go home for Thanksgiving.”  The writer Elizabeth Gilbert takes this further in her analysis by emphasizing that your family will of course push your buttons because they are the ones who put them there.  I don’t view this negatively at all.  Truly loving someone means that you see chips in their facade and love them all the more for it.  Anytime you gather together a group of strong personalities there is bound to be some conflict, whether it gets articulated or not.  I find that we are made to fear frank discussions so much because it’s not seen to be particularly dignified.  I just find it way less “classy” when people are leaving things unsaid but you know that they will gossip about it tomorrow.  I do agree that silence is sometimes the best thing for these situations because the need for honesty should be tempered by long-term thinking.  Do you really think the specific context will improve when confronted?  If not, then maybe a bit of acceptance is key.

The thing with family too is that you know that they are always going to be a part of your life so treat them well.  You have a history together and a bond.  So it is a balance, like everything else in life.  I believe that Ram Dass also states that it is our purpose to love everyone in the world since respect is integral to forming this type of affection.  But some people are better loved from a safe distance.  Now, that is one of the most pragmatic and real things that I’ve heard from a guru in a very long time.  Sometimes a little bit of space can be the best thing for a relationship.

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