By Lynn V. Andrews
From: Love and Power. Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin Group. ISBN: 978-1-58542-575-4
I have three very special women friends whom I have known since high school…
One summer, the four of us decided to take a short vacation together in Sante Fe, New Mexico…
We have all gone in different directions. I have become an author and a healer. Patricia is one of the biggest actors’ agents in Hollywood, much to her surprise. Jan is a mother and the wife of a man who owns a plumbing company. Gwen is a lawyer.
As we sat at La Posada, sipping our iced teas and looking at one another, each of us observed the others’ wonderful faces and contemplated the map of time and experience that had been written across our expressions and bodies.
Finally, I said: “You know, I am so proud to know the three of you. You have each done such wonderful things with your lives.”
Gwen burst into tears. We were surprised by her emotions. I put my arm around, since I was sitting next to her, and inquired, “Honey, what did I say?”
She blew her nose into a tissue and took a deep breath. “Well, you know, I am making more money than I dreamed I ever would. It never occurred to me that I was going to be a successful lawyer. I became a lawyer because I was interested in law, because I loved what it meant to uphold what is right and to punish what is wrong. I wanted to mirror that by fighting for what has integrity and vision, in the best way that I could. But it never occurred to me that I would be so busy that I would lose myself in this stressful workaday world. I have dated very interesting men in these past ten years, but I never could give up my work enough to be married to any of them. Now that I’m nearing my fifties, I wonder what I’ve done, and that’s why I’m crying.”
She cried some more into her Kleenex, really stressed.
“Gwen, are you frightened in some way?” I asked.
“I guess I feel like a little girl, in a way, in a fifty-year old woman’s body, and I wonder if the party has gone on without me, as if everyone else was invited and I was left at home. Maybe by working so hard toward what I thought my goal was, I missed marriage, I missed having children. Oh, my God, I don’t know what I’ve done.”
“But it’s never too late,” Jan said, reaching her hand across the table. “My father died when my mother was forty and she didn’t remarry until she was in her late fifties. You can always adopt children. You don’t necessarily have to have children.”
“I know,” Gwen said, “I’ve thought
About that. But you know now I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to put myself out there, even to attract someone to become married. I honestly don’t know how.” With this, she started to cry some more. My heart went out to her.
“Gwen, I understand so well what you’re saying,” I said. “I’ve been married twice now. I have a beautiful daughter , whom I couldn’t continue my life without, and yet I find myself in a similar position. I’m very driven. I don’t do anything without my mind flying off in all directions, spinning off new ways to create activities that will help people. I seem driven to accomplish, over and over again. It’s funny, because the people who work for me often say that they feel like they’re running after a freight train and can never quite catch it. I suppose that’s true. What’s happening to me, Gwen, though I don’t see this happening to you, is that my body is now rebelling. My body is saying, “Hey, you need to slow down! You need to pay attention to your personal life.”
I looked around at the others. “What about the rest of you? Have you felt this as well?”
Jan nodded. “You know, one would think that because I chose to be married, be a householder, and have children, that I have devoted myself to my personal life. And yet, in the first fifteen years of their lives, my three children took over my life, and gave it to them. I thought this is what I should do, and it was what I wanted to do. Frankly, I look at the three of you, and I wish with all my heart and soul that I had a profession that was mine. I lived through my husband, in a way. My husband is a powerful man. He owns a plumbing company. He started out as just a plumber. How could we know he was going to be as successful as he became! But I helped him get there, and he acknowledges me for that. I don’t see my husband very much really. He’s gone a great deal of the time. We have companies all over the country.
“At this point I wonder what I’m living for. My life has always involved nurturing. My role was to take care of everyone, and now I realize that I don’t know how to take care of me mostly in terms of material things. I regret that I have never achieved any landmark accomplishment. Each one of you has left your mark on the world. If I died tomorrow, my family would miss me, and that would be about it.”
We were all in shock at her statement. We had never imagined she felt that way.
“I’m stunned Jan, because I always thought you were so happy,” I said.
“It isn’t that I’m not happy,” Jan said. “It’s that I’m not fulfilled. There’s a lack of balance in here somehow. I have had love in my life, but, you know, I haven’t found my power.”
“In my work,” I said, smiling at her, “one of the things I always talk about with the women and the men who work with me is the importance of an act of power. An act of power is an expression in the world of your true essence. If you don’t have an act of power, you can never really see who you are. I think your act of power, Jan, has been your nurturing ability. It gave you an extraordinary mirror through your happy children and your prosperous life. Now that mirror is changing for you; you’ve successfully raised your family, and now they’re moving on. But is that so bad? You’ve lived something that the three of us here haven’t had a chance to experience. You have accomplished something quite extraordinary. I think that wives today are survivors. Wives today accomplish incredible magic. If they can get their kids through school, just through school, without them being in gangs, or on drugs, they’ve accomplished a lot. So I don’t see you, Jan, the way you see yourself. I see you as an incredible, shining example, a light to other women.”
“Thank you, Lynn. Maybe I can try to see myself like that. I don’t know why I demean myself, but I guess I do.”
“Well, I have an interesting thing to add to this mix,” Patricia said, our friend the successful agent. “I’ll bet none of you even knew this, but I wanted to be a star.”
We all looked at Patricia with our mouths hanging open.
“I always wanted to be a star, but look at me. I’m not a pretty woman. I’m not a pretty woman at all.”
“I think you’re wonderful looking,” Gwen said.
“Yeah, right, handsome. That’s not a beautiful woman, Maybe I could have been a character actress,” she said
“All right,” I said, “ so go on. I’m interested in what you have to say.”
“I have been an agent for many extraordinary people. I have mad stars out of almost everyone who has come to me. I took on very few clients and I did a very good job for them. Now I look around at my life, and I’ve got everything I wanted. I have a wonderful husband whom I love more than anything in the world. But you know what? I miss the one thing that I really wanted. What I really wanted was to be a star. Isn’t that funny? And I probably could have been. But I never gave myself the chance. Now there’s a sadness in me, and I don’t know what to do about it. I guess, in a sense, there’s not much I can do. I just go on with my life, but inside I feel this sadness, and I’m afraid it will never go away. The older I get, the further away I get from what I really wanted.” Tears welled up in her eyes.
“I can’t believe this,” I said. “Is it possible that we are all sitting here thinking that we have missed our lives, that we have missed what we came here to do? That can’t possibly be. I just can’t believe that. But it seems so at the moment. And me, I’m doing the same thing. I’m working so hard that I don’t have time for my personal life. I’m trying to change it, but it’s so hard to do. It’s hard because I love what I do; I have a passion for what I do. When an idea comes up for a book, I want write it with my whole heart and soul. And yet, there has to be time somewhere to live, to dream, to lie on my back on the earth and stare up at the sky and let whatever thoughts want to enter come. So what are we, my three dear friends? Where are we really in all of this?”
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