Archive for June, 2012

This is an article I wrote when season 5 came to an end, knowing it’s an experience that happens in life all too often.

So many of us were raised in hostile or what felt as cold households simply because our parents or guardians were doing to us what was taught to them. To be punitive under the false belief that this is how love looks.  When in fact, loving and controlling are in opposite corners. Giving unwarranted commentary, which usually amounts to nothing more than personal opinion ( judgment) usually leaves a child feeling wrong, bad or stupid rather than understood and loved. Leaving the actual feeling of care as a foreign ideal. Hence,  most people are incapable of receiving  even the smallest of compliments.  Receiving authentic care is a frightening proposition, so much so, many of us haven’t the capacity to consider extending a caring attitude let alone take loving action.

Love  is what Don Draper wanted to express, control is what he demonstrated. Here are the results.

Watching Mad Men and how Don Draper who, motivated by Lane’s need for financial security, went guns blazing into Roger’s office. He demanded they go after the big dogs and win their business. He returned to his “take no prisoners” style of pitching clients and essentially told them,  were the agency for you and you’re idiots to settle for anyone else. Leaving them all a bit dumb struck. What he said was definitive and undoubtedly caused them to wonder, was he right? Strength of conviction, a courageous act and many of us lack that courage.

Sadly, Lane proved that he was definitely in the later category of men. Courage was no longer something he could muster or fake. Don hadn’t expressed this care for Lane out loud, instead Lane experienced a logical rational and a Don that, had to “go by the books”. As Lane wept uncontrollably, Don sat stone faced believing that Lane could start again, as he had. What Don didn’t realize was that Lane feeling bullied by life (deftly revealed by his father’s swift caning across Lane’s skull and his wife’s “you’ll do what I want” style of expressing her “care”) and emotionally vulnerable, defeat clung to his heart. Lane hanged himself in the office.

Of course the pain for all of us watching was knowing that Don was in fact a caring gentle man underneath the veneer of cool and composed.

Dons cascade into the abyss of adultery  is no doubt fueled by his guilt and shame. So while he is carrying the gene of shame, while quietly motivated by those very things we’d hope a hero would concern himself, he takes steps that will surely destroy him once again.

Don was the only man at the company, who didn’t want Joan to lie down for the Jaguar business. The man who understood that his marriage to Betty ended, partially due to his behaviors and denying his wife personal choice, cares about connection. There are countless examples of Don being the caring but silent and therefore misunderstood hero. Yes, he may regain his status  in the material world, but his heart bleeds with care and loneliness.  He’s a softy under it all. If only our world would value that care, Lane and Don’s stepbrother may still be alive. As Don see’s it, if he were a “good” person, then these tragedies could have been avoided. How do I surmise this? The visions he sees of his dead brother are one clue but he also leak his truth in every misstep and new folly he creates. In every silent crusade to assist the underdog he undergoes. If only he was able to talk, to share his heart, his concerns, his care, if only men were valued for their whole being rather than for the machismo masks they’re forced to conform. Don might be able to save himself from the lies about himself before it’s too late.

 

I was climbing the stairs in Culver City. As one ascends what becomes clear is that their daunting not simply because there are over 400 steps at a steep angle but that they’re also very uneven in height. Some are quite reasonable, akin to an apartment building stairwell. While many demand double effort and lung capacity to mount them (causing short ones like me to have to really reach!).
As I dragged my heaving torso and leaden legs towards the top, I was met by a slender, tall, very fit, African American man-friendly, chipper…. annoying? How can he be so happy when at this moment, when I tempered with exhaustion, I’m barely audible! Mumbling, waving hands, I send the “thumbs up” in his direction, hoping he won’t expect conversation at this point.
Okay. 2nd round. There he is again. This time with a bit more breath available I say to him, “how sweet of you to cheer us on”. He responded positively but then quickly enough decided that my word to describe his support was incorrect. He preferred, “motivator”. “Cheering”, was decidedly too feminine.
I asked what’s wrong with being “feminine”? He immediately understood what I meant. You mean, caring, he asked? YES! I said enthusiastically, with an undercurrent of shock humming within too. He associated feminine to caring. How beautiful to know that a random man on the Culver City steps, is carrying around the consciousness that femininity equates to care! Yet, it’s that very fact he didn’t want to be associated with the word care that caused a brief bubble of disappointment or sadness to pop up. We continued talking a bit longer. I expressed that caring is precisely what he’s doing at the top of those stairs, helping others feel good about their accomplishments. After pause, he did agree. How sweet (another feminine feature I suppose?). He put his masculine ideals aside for a moment and decided that care was a quality he valued. By the end of our conversation I believed he was comfortable to be seen as a man who cared and actually felt safe with that little secret being exposed (at least between us).
You’ll know there’s a huge shift in consciousness the day boys are referred to as “girly” and it’s taken as a compliment! And when later in life they hear: Why mister so and so….you have so many feminine qualities, we’ve been searching for a girly man like you, welcome to our firm! HA….not likely but one can play, dance and skirt around the notion.