This experience is not a costumed run-through for some well-polished performance of Life.

This is it. The real thing. All we get. Right now.

This is life, it is short, and we are using it up more quickly than we realize. Our ultimate non-renewable resource.

The seconds, the hours, the weeks, the years. Every moment of every day, humans are providedopportunity. We need to stop waking up in the morning and giving that opportunity to someone else. We need to stop worrying about judgement, or repercussions. The future always seems so far away until it’s the past– then all we want to do is hold it closely, whispering of all the ways we could have done it differently. Foregoing our “right now” for another glimpse at yesterday. Reveling in a bittersweet nostalgia while more opportunity slips away. Slips away. Slips away.

From where I am standing, that is my biggest fear. Regret. Remorse. A perfect view in hindsight of a life I could have had.

Somewhere along the way, it was planted in my fertile little mind that I could be anything I wanted to be. After 24 years of going through the motions, I’m realizing that it’s no longer a matter of “what do I want to be *when* I grow up;” the question is now “what do I want to be *since* I’m grown up?” And it’s a pretty legitimate question, no matter what walk of life you are in. Are you who you want to be?

In a world where comfortable survival were guaranteed, monetary pressures were irrelevant, and society passed no judgement on you: what would you do?

In my mind, whatever answer you provide to that question is what you truly, deeply desire for your life. In asking others this question, I’ve noticed several things. Firstly, many people cannot even fathom existence without money as their motivator. In contemporary culture, money = survival.

Another observation is that many people turn, then, to procreation. They would, in a simple world, expend reallocated energy on family. This led me to conclude (perhaps obviously) that our species understands survival. Without the concern over making it another day, I think many would feel a sense of purpose-less-ness.

Which brings me to my second point– that feeling of purpose-less-ness is what I experience every day. Money motivates me only insofar as doing what I’m “supposed to do” is concerned. It keeps the collectors from calling my mom to pick up my tab, it keeps my dog fed, and having a job gives me something to talk about at social functions. I went through the education system, the higher education system, and now I’m working in an office. It’s all very linear and logical. I get a gold star on my chart, cultural approval, and I get to pat myself on the back every other Thursday, while standing in line at the bank.

As far as breeding, it just doesn’t feel right for me. It has never felt as though a family could be my “purpose,” nor has it ever been my desire. Perhaps some women *can* do it all– the career, the kids, the social life– but I don’t think I want to try the balancing act. I am not a jack-of-all type of girl; I’m something of a perfectionist, and feel disappointed in myself if results are anything short of praise-worthy. I get anxiety over starting something I don’t have confidence in my finishing well, and raising kids is a complex objective art. Time-consuming, to say the least.

In a world without any necessity for labor, I would travel and write. This has been my answer for as long as I can remember. I would see the world, learning as much as possible, then synthesize and regurgitate this information with others. Words thrill me. They always have. Thrilling others with my words– bringing them to a time and place where  I stood, and trying to share a feeling– that is the greatest gratification I find in life.

I’m realizing that I am my own biggest roadblock. I have created the wall of “what if(s)” and “but I could never(s)” that separates me from the life I want to live. I adopt a defeatist attitude before I even enter the ring and face my opponent. I am excusing away my opportunities, as though the ship set sail long ago. No more.

It’s time for me to take action on a number of things. First and foremost, giving myself credit where it’s due. I am living one version of my dream. In little bits and bites. In fragments every time I post a blog, and x-number of people intentionally digest the contents of my mind. I am a published author; even if it’s one tiny corner of a vast sea of information. I started something from nothing, and I am getting back what I put in. It may not be the most monumental “something” of our time, but I’m not finished yet. And I AM learning about the world. Every single day, I encounter a new person, place, or bit of information.

So what more do I want?

That has become, for me, the most essential inquisitive. Who do I want to be? That’s step one to getting there.

Something spectacular. That’s my answer; the only thing I will settle for. I have this whole life to get there, and not starting today is inexcusable. More and better tomorrow. More and better the next day. The only thing holding me back from possibility is myself– pride, ego, and fear. In the end, I am realizing, it is better to have a long track record of phenomenal failures than to have taken no risks at all.

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Some Say Men, But I Say No

August 13, 2010

Lately I’ve been wondering what the long-term effects of the women’s rights movement have really been on America.

Now, before defending to me my rights to vote, and pointing out the many freedoms I enjoy as a modern female, hear me out. I actually consider myself to be a feminist. I’m not going to say it was a one step forward; two steps back situation. More like society took two steps forward; right off the map.

The past hundred years can be seen as a cold war between the sexes– an arms race where each side stockpiles with a smile. “Anything you can do, I can do better,” and that “Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus,” are now a given. From the inception of women’s suffrage,  the genders have been inherently pitted against each other in the public mind. Separate. But equal.

Does anyone really believe that to be the case?

In entering what we decidedly refer to as “a man’s world” during the 20th century, womankind came  to assume the responsibility of professional success– that is to say, she put on a mans suit, walked into a mans office, and demanded the respect of the men around her.

Woman was ready to prove that she was strong, intelligent, and prepared to be everything that man had been for so long. She wanted to drink their scotch, talk their sports, and smoke their cigars. Arguably, women didn’t want to be equal: they wanted to be men. In an attempt to earn man’s respect (which, in and of itself seems to undermine the concept of the movement) she toned down her sex appeal; she put her heels on the floor; and made it clear that she was nothing– NOTHING– like her toilet-scrubbing, pot scouring brethren.

The true tragedy of the “battle of the sexes,” in my observation, is that modern woman seems more in competition with her sisters than anything. Instead of standing together, women have unwittingly divided and conquered ourselves. My argument here, as someone who has studied other primates eagerly, will be that our gender has been unable to fully assume the archaic male conceptualization of solitude. We just aren’t wired for it.

I am, of course, still a proponent of conscious evolution. But the fact of the matter is that we are animals, and in nearly every species on the planet– our closest genetic cousins very much included– males mate, males protect, males compete for alpha. Males operate in self-preservation mode. Females, for their part, tend to form family-like nodes, take care of each other, and raise children. There is competition for female alpha, but it tends to be much less war-like, and based more in a group “respect” and seniority. Women do not compete in the physically obvious ways men do, it’s a much more socially interactive structure– what each female has to offer the group determines their status. This may help explain the way women, often without bad intent, seem to be constantly judging each other.

The crux in these organizations being that the females generally determine the alpha male of the group. Although males are physically dominant and seem to weld the power, the balance of the social dynamic rests in the willingness of the females to be dominated by a certain male. In a strange way, it’s nearly democracy. Check out Iroquois tribe structures for similar findings.

Humanity has attempted to thwart natural order, in the curious way we do. It seem to me, and I am speaking primarily in Western cultures, that from the time mankind had the revelation that women were, in fact, great bearers of power (if only for being bearers of future generations), they attempted to harness and control womankind.

Lust became sin. Woman came to represent temptation, weakness, and the harbinger of evil to the garden of Eden. In shifting the psychology of our biology, men did their best to subjugate femininity.

This attitude has prevailed for thousands of years, replicated in politics and religion alike. A woman who uses her natural-born sexuality– her biological gift of power– is considered a hussy, an opportunist, and is somehow rationalized to be less successful for “self-exploitation.” On the flip side, a woman who chooses to stay at home, raise a family, and has her husband generating income is, however silently, still judged.

In contemporary culture, men seem confused about what women want. And I am starting to realize that’s due in large part to women’s confusion about our roles in this new era. What is the measure of success for a woman? What is the measure of success for a man? Are they the same? What does a man provide a woman? What does a woman provide a man? Are they the same?

I don’t have the answers. What I do have is something that my mother (a perfect product of her generation’s gender identity crisis, having grown up in one of the only single-parent homes on her block at the time) told me during my formative years. Something her mother told her, and something that I consider the best advice for maintaining a relationship in a cultural period where even defining the word “is” has proven difficult.

Mama bear never ever told me “don’t trust a man.”

She advised I don’t depend on one.