Phedre disappoints

Phedre

Last night I went to see ACT’s production of Phedre which had received many good reviews. I had a hard time following the play, to tell the truth. Racine must have written this a few centuries ago yet some older plays still hold up under modern audiences. Last night’s audience disappointed me. They laughed when no laughter was intended and it was usually at the expense of the main character, Phedre, an older woman who made the mistake of falling for a younger man.

As I listened to this tale of woe, I wondered if the play would have been more entertaining and less offensive if the roles had been reversed: that is, if a king had fallen for a step daughter and had lost everything in the long run for this folly. Then I understood that play would have never been written as it was not interesting or different. Men fall for younger women all the time. If they are rich or powerful, they usually get them for as long as they want them.

 We women can be foolish particularly when we are young. We mistake money and power for strength and we sometimes choose it, believing our lives will be richer because we are attached to a man who has these attributes. We sometimes miss the knowledge that we will still be young when he is old. We will have energy and vitality and he will want to rest from life. We may miss being loved for our fine lines and I don’t mean those on our faces.

I think plays like Phedre shouldn’t be produced anymore. Why not remake them into something more interesting and less predictable. Make the heroine win! Make her get her younger lover as well as the throne! Make her the queen of all and the loser of nothing.

Now that would be a worthwhile play!

Fragrance Crimes

Fragrance crimes

Why oh why do people think the world should smell them? Honestly! I don’t understand it! Wearing perfume so strong that it wafts through a room after a person is really unattractive. I think it is like those in cars who blare their music to the world. You know those cars, they stop by you at stop lights and if your window is open you have to immediately close it before your ears hurt. That is offensive as well but of shorter duration.

Last night I went to the theater with a friend and there were women all around us wearing really strong perfume. What do these women think before they go out? “Let’s see how much perfume I can spray on myself so the entire theater will be able to smell me?”

After about 15 minutes of this overwhelming cacophony of smells I had a bad headache and would have liked to leave but I was interested in the play.

Please ladies and gentlemen: leave your perfume and aftershave at home. Learn to be subtle with it. Brad Pitt once said “You shouldn’t be able to smell a woman’s perfume unless you were kissing her.”

Now that’s a great comment on life!

Open Handed…

Satisfied with what is in your hand?

I remember once going to a talk at a local Buddhist retreat. At the beginning of the talk the speaker asked the audience to hold out their hand and then make a fist. We all dutifully did this and held our fists for what seemed a long time. Then we were asked to open our hands and relax them. I remember the feeling of peace that came over me. Sometimes I still do this exercise as it reminds me not to hold on to anything. Try it now.

I hate letting go. I really do. If I am on a bus I want to help the driver look out for hazards. When flying I always want to the window seat so I can let the pilot know if an engine catches on fire. If I am in a car when a friend is driving I have a constantly tensed right leg so I can hit my imaginary brake if I have to.

I know, I know, this is a hugely controlling way to live. I am working on it. I am really working on it in my relationships whether in my family or in my love life. All you can really do is take a look at what you have in front of you. “Notice, notice, notice…”

If you are in love with someone who is really not available for a committed relationship you have only yourself to blame for wanting one with this person. You have only yourself to count on for moving forward and finding someone who is available to love you and be with you in a way that makes you feel safe. If you stay in a relationship where you are always wanting what is not offered, you are bound to be hurt and disappointed most of the time.

Why do we stay? Sometimes you stay because we think having something is better than having nothing. Most of us didn’t have enough in our childhoods. I hate to malign parents in the 50’s but something went really wrong. There are many of us out there who suffer from abandonment and have panic attacks at the thought of losing a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife. The idea of being alone is so much worse than the state of wanting. I guess the state of wanting is one where you can always hope you will get what you want.

Here is the problem. You probably never will. A better question to ask yourself is why do you want something from someone who cannot give this to you? Why are you putting yourself constantly in the position of grasping with your hand out, tense and desirous?

Imagine what it would feel like to be in a relationship with someone who loved you and wanted to be with you. You would have someone to call if you were in an accident and expect them to come to the hospital. You would know who you were going to spend the weekend with. You would look forward to Christmas with a cozy dinner and gifts. Or a cozy dinner and no gifts.

My point is you would have the knowledge that someone was there for you when you needed them. Imagine how that would feel. I imagine it would feel like it did when I released my clasped hand so long ago. I really liked that feeling.

If we could practice this in our lives we would save ourselves a lot of pain. We would clearly see what another offered, was capable of offering, and we could chose to rely on them, or not.

The problem is that most of us seem to be more comfortable relying on imagination and hope than the reality of what is. It may be more Buddhist to the “other “if we see them for what they are, accept them and stop wanting more.

Choosing the right person to want to be in a love relationship with is possible and can happen. That is my dream at the moment. In terms of family relationships, detachment works in much the same way. Make note of the behavior and do not expect it to change. We only have the power to change our own behavior and with whom we interact with on an intimate basis. We have the power within ourselves to choose friends we can count on and lovers who adore us.

Interestingly enough, once we practice this behavior we have to stop wanting from others. We see what is available more clearly and it doesn’t hurt us. We know we are being unreasonable if we keep on wanting more from a person and we begin to see the person for what they are. They are not bad because they don’t love us in the way we want to be loved, they are just what they are.

Death Penalty

Lacking in Compassion

“Reliving Horror in a Connecticut Case That Tests the Death Penalty” NY Times, 1/19/2010

I am lacking in compassion today. I realized this when I read again about the crime committed in Connecticut on the Petit family. Mrs. Petit and her two daughters were brutally raped and murdered in 2007 and the men who did this are in prison. They are awaiting a decision by the court on whether or not the death penalty should be imposed.

I say, kill them.

I know this is un-Buddhist of me but I really don’t care. If you read the details of the crime you will understand my point of view. I think what they did is so terrible, I can’t imagine not putting them to death.  Dr. Petit, the husband, thinks the death penalty should be imposed. Imagine what his life is like at this point in time. There can never be forgiveness nor should there be. If these two criminals are put to death perhaps he can have a bit of relief.

I have voted for the death penalty in arguments with others many times. I don’t think we can waste more time debating the issue.  When a crime of this nature has been committed, the guilty parties imprisoned, DNA proof is clear, there should be no hesitation in putting them to death.

The argument is that the cost of putting someone to death is exorbitant.  While this may be true for the moment, what would happen if it were made much simpler? I think in 50 years it will be this simple as we will no longer be able to afford the luxury of appeal after appeal. The death penalty will be applied to all who commit these crimes.  There are those who argue this will not stop crime from happening but I disagree. I believe if our society strictly imposed the death penalty on those who were clearly guilty without any doubt there would be less violent crime. Perhaps this is naive but sometimes I am naive.

Life is made to be lived with certain restrictions, certain laws, and certain codes of behavior. Without these laws society would not be ordered. I have little sympathy for those who have no interest in abiding by these laws whether they are murderers or white collar criminals like Madeoff who ruin thousands of lives. I think we need to revise our criminal justice system making it simpler and less costly to run. So much money is spent on “rehabilitating” criminals, and so little on educating our children.  Think about what would happen if we took even 10% of the money spent on prisons and put it into schools.

I know this is a radical opinion and one that won’t be popular. Most people look at me in horror when I discuss it. I can’t help myself as I see Dr. Petit’s face and imagine what his life is now with all his memories, particularly his knowledge of his family’s last minutes of life.

happiness

I read somewhere a long time ago that the happiest people were the ones who could look at their accomplishments and be proud of them. This seems simple, right? You set a goal for yourself and then check it off your list once you have finished with it. I find the idea of this is appealing but the actual process seems to  become more difficult. First of all, how do you decide what is a worthy goal? This part always gets to me. I compare my goal with other accomplishments in the world like maybe the Mona Lisa, or Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. perhaps the Polio vaccine or the invention of sign language. Ridiculous, right? Why in the world would I even begin to think in those terms? That’s what I used to do when coming up with my own goals. Now that I have advanced in age I have changed my approach. I use smaller and less grand measures to evaluate my goals and try to keep them in perspective according to my own life. Like maybe the Golden Gate Bridge!I still find it hard to feel pleasure in my own accomplishments. I think all of us who are hard- wired to be filled with self-doubt feel the same way. No matter what it is we accomplish in life , it is never enough to make us happy. Sometimes we do feel happy but not that deep-seated sense of contentment we all long for. I was talking with a friend the other day about how we miss so much of the present by focusing on the future. There is always something better out in front of us than what we see at the present moment in time. I have missed the most magical things by having these types of thoughts. Once I caught only the tail end of a flight of  pelicans leaving for the winter, suitcases packed and in their mouths, flying south. After that I decided to start practicing being in the present moment. It is not always easy. Sometimes when the present moment is stressful I tend to wander off. Not in the physical sense but definitely in the mental. I am going to work on completion this year. Completing my poetry book , completing my novel and completing anything I find not completed in my life. This may also mean completing relationships that have been left uncompleted. Harsh words hanging out on a line. Angry thoughts still present when a certain face comes to mind. I used to think superficial relationships were useless but now I have changed my mind. We sometimes need superficiality to balance those other relationships which may be very intense. Sometimes it is a good idea to just be nice to someone if it means you can avoid any feelings of ill will. Yikes! It has taken me a long time to realize this.

The best thing about life is hanging on to the right to change your mind about anything and everything.

Add a bit of magic to your life

home is where the light is on

When my friend visited me last week we bought a new light for my front gate. The gate has become a beacon to my house and makes me happy. It’s a small light which casts a glow all around the front gate and when I come home I smile at the light. It represents happiness and comfort. I am really grateful to know this man who knows what tiny detail will add enormous pleasure to the most mundane of  places. The creation of magic is what happened to my gate and my world. Buy a new light and illuminate your world! It will make you happy every night!

one foot out the door: go with instinct or denial?

When in a relationship it is a good idea to keep one foot out the door: true or false ? You might not believe this was a good way to operate? All the self-help books as well as the “right way to have a relationship” books would be shocked at that credo. You are supposed to trust with your heart and jump right in  when falling in love and making a commitment. I always preferred to keep one foot out the door. Keep a full tank of gas. Buy a small house in another state. Make lots of single friends. Always note any possible sign of a failing commitment and take a step away. Never trust anyone but act as if you trust the whole world. People are shocked when I say this as most others view me as open-hearted. I think I am open-hearted on the one hand, but on the other I see things I am not supposed to see.  The most difficult thing in life is to merge your instinct and your intellect.

If you have the gift or the ability to connect with your instinct you have an awareness of others in a way that gives you a clear picture of what they are and what they do. You know when you have been betrayed and you also know when, where and who it was with. I have had clear visions of  betrayal and when I confronted my partner about it and was told I was crazy, I felt crazy. My instinctive self is so strong it wouldn’t allow me to move on but kept on nudging me  into seeing the truth. I wanted more than anything to believe I was imagining things as it would have made life so much easier. It is easier to think you are crazy than to know someone you love has lied to you. Women have done this for centuries. We are trained to overlook our third eyes or even to overlook our real eyes. I remember that funny scene from an old Flip Wilson skit when the wife comes home to find Flip in bed with another woman. Flip jumps out of bed and says, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

We chose more often than we can admit to believe the guy and doubt our own instincts. I think there are men in the world who are faithful and who don’t lie to their partners. Unfortunately the more money and power a man has, the more likely he is to fool around. My mother used to say to me, “Dear, they all do it!”

I wonder what it is like to have both feet in a relationship and to trust your partner? I wonder how you determine whether or not someone is trustworthy and then what you do if you find they are not? There are those who will say it is best to trust and then deal with the loss of trust when it comes but I think this is incredibly painful. I think as you get older the ability to trust is gone if it has been damaged in past years. My philosophy in loving now is to see the truth about others and try to view everyone with compassion. I have spent decades whining about men and their failures to my friends, therapists and my pets. Now I am trying to see what someone has to offer and not judge this offering but choose whether or not it works for me. This practice makes life so much easier and I wish I had started years ago. Yes, it is painful to know someone has lied to you and  been unfaithful but in the long run it is less painful than to live in a fragile state of denial.

I am hoping to be able to find a relationship that is rich in trust before I die. I can’t imagine how relaxing it must be to know in your heart and your intuitive self your partner was truthful, open and loyal to you. I think only in finding this person will I be able to be the same way myself and keep both my feet inside the door. That would be the most interesting thing to me about  finding a partner to travel with. in this lifetime.