Throwing Out the Lists

He said, “you think you’re a lady, but I know you’re a woman….”

This morning, I find myself thinking of the first line of the song, ‘Love Puts on a New Face,’ by Joni Mitchell, thinking about the difference between a lady and a woman.  Is there even a difference at all? When I was growing up, there wasn’t much talk about being a woman. A girl became a woman when she got her period.

But a lady… ah becoming a lady required some effort beyond the physical.

What is a lady though?

According to Wikipedia it is a, “…civil term of respect for a woman, specifically the female equivalent to, or spouse of, a gentleman or lord, and in many contexts a term for any adult woman.”

When I was in growing up, being a ‘lady,’ was a desirable trait. It ensured that you were respected and that you ended up married to a gentleman.  Among the rules of becoming a lady included speaking well, having good manners, keeping your eyes open and your legs closed.  Sure I agree with having good manners and speaking well, but shouldn’t that be everyone?

As I grew up, I realised that these rules were just the tip of the iceberg, and that there were more lists to come.  All you need to do is open a women’s magazine, and it will give you all these lists – what to do to be such and such, what to say, how your romantic life should be, what to do on the first date, the games you have to play.  I’m not a reader of men’s magazines but I’m sure they are also full of instructive and useful tips.  To be normal nowadays, you would have read at least one self help book in your life, one that’s got yet even more tips. And of course, in the wellness world there are tips on how much you exercise, how often, and of course, what you should (or rather should not) be eating.

While we become a people who are intellectually intelligent, have we lost the ability to find things out for ourselves?

Let’s look at this. There was a time when there (oh my god!!!) there were no magazines to tell you what to eat.  You’d eat something, and then if you felt muggy, heavy or just not right in your body, you would not eat it anymore.  Same goes for a workout routine. Feeling a bit sore is great, feeling your muscles stretch and work is great, but you have to be aware of the difference of discomfort and pain. In a yoga practice, discomfort is something you work with. It’s your edge and as you keep working, the edge grows further away.  Pain… well, that’s that red flag that goes ‘ouch!’ and if that’s what you feel, adjust, or even find a replacement pose.  And instructor will get you to do poses, but you always know your body best.

And you do. You know yourself best. You know what feels right in your body, and more than that, you know what feels right said out loud.

When someone you like asks you out and you have the urge to jump up for joy, why not just do it? Jump. Cheer. Give yourself a high five if you want.  But oh wait… some magazine said that you shouldn’t be over-enthusiastic right? You have to play these stupid games so that it looks like they’re more into you than you are into them. That way, if it doesn’t work out, although your heart might hurt, your ego remains intact, right?

There’s that fucking ego again.

All these rules, all these lists, all these have tos , have not tos and don’t you dare do thats!?.

Why?

Maybe it’s because while we are following lists, things become intellectual pursuits. Once we let go of these lists and start feeling, then it becomes complicated. Lists keep things black and white, but once we go into sensation, there are a million colours in between and sometimes the colours blur into each other.  It’s fucking scary. There is no ‘scientific proof’ in the world of feelings, and sometimes things can collide.  Anger and love. Hate and compassion. Sadness and fear.  A lady and a whore. A mother and a lover.  A gentleman and a villain. Desire and distaste.

But perhaps, it’s simpler than that… Perhaps we follow these lists for the one basic thing – the fear of being unloved.

As for me, I’m going to give up trying to be a lady or a woman for that matter. I want to just be – to make mistakes and say stupid things, to just swear when appropriate (not at parents or elders though, that’s just basic human decency and respect), and to just be OK with myself when I’ve eaten more than 500 calories a day plus a bag of chips, when my dress size is not a 6, and when I fall over while demonstrating a pose in class.

Because you know what?

Sometimes a perfect life comes is made up of many imperfect moments.

So yeah, let’s all throw out the bloody lists and work on the areas between the blacks and the whites.

Lady and A whore
Edited by Cazz Eccles: http://lovewhatitloves.wordpress.com/

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