Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Self Made Stereotype

Hi Friends,
It's a beautiful spring-like morning in December, balmy enough to go out before sunrise wearing only a t-shirt and jeans. I have been meaning to go running in the dark at five am, and today the conditions would have been ideal.  Perhaps tomorrow I will remember that I actually do want to leave the comfort of home for a little while, to kick start my day feeling alive and refreshed.
During my recent pause in blogging, I've made time to read a book.
Nearing the end of it, I'm inspired to share an insight that has been affecting my life without my conscious awareness.  On one level I've constructed a life, and continue to construct my life, around a self-made stereotype.

What I mean to say is that the things that I've discovered about myself along the way (I'm creative, I'm introspective, I'm a home-body) have reinforced patterns and also created ruts.  Efficiency and mastery are prized and valued in our society (such as homemaking skills and parenting), but they can be extremely limiting in terms of our willingness to experience life in a vibrant and open, risky and thrilling, awe inspiring, too big for words kind of way.  They can and do limit us, especially when we allow ourselves to be dominated by routines and our commitment to the dominant ideologies of how we are in dire need of economical constraints.  We've limited our imaginations in how to afford adventure.  Adventure seems now to be a packaged deal, available only to the careless wealthy.

Recently I had an experience that opened my eyes to something that I thought I could turn into a large writing project.  After that experience, I decided that research was in order, and so I ordered several books on that topic from the library.  Out of five books, only one held my attention and was more in line with the epiphany that challenged me to seek out and experiment.  The epiphany is this:  taking a risk with someone you love is a deeply bonding experience.  Everything that couples do to create safety and comfort in their lives, such as a home and a career (or two) are naturally good, but can also have the affect of killing romantic love if safety and security are the only goals.  Romantic love is based in risk.  That's where the thrill lies.  And once we are safely in love, and the children arrive, risk becomes a dirty word.  Now, everything becomes a quest for protection.

I'm so thankful that I have a husband who enjoys adventure, and who wants to include me in his sometimes wild and crazy ideas.   Otherwise, I might still be baking bread and cleaning toilets, thinking to myself how "good" of a wife I am.

My personal stereotype is that I'm extremely cautious and often afraid to try new things.  Hang gliding on the dunes doesn't count because contrary to popular belief, that activity is safer than driving around town.

Here's a quote to follow my point, taken from No Opportunity Wasted by Phil Keoghan:

    "Even if you've been quiet (another self imposed stereotype) for the past 20 years, it doesn't mean you must be quiet for the next 20.  There are lots of little ways you can begin to make a racket.  And every little noisy act of defiance will break down that stereotype some more.  If making noise seems out of character for you, well...that's the whole idea.  There's no reason your character, and by extension your life, must be predictable and one-dimensional.  A person can be both quiet and loud.  A very responsible mother of two can also ride a motorcycle."

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