On Valentine's day, coupled or not, we are inundated with images of romantic love. But another love, love of ones' self, is on my mind today.
When I watched "Oprah" while trotting on the treadmill, a certain kind of woman was a regular guest. She was a real person, articulate, nice-looking but limp, neglectful of her appearance, nutrition, spirit.
She was not, as Oprah often said, "living her best life". Either she vowed "I'm finally taking time for myself" or sat in front of an expert who told her to do so. For her, there was an arsenal of tools: gratitude journal, cute dress and boots, and–for really hard cases–Suze Orman. It always worked; by the credits, the woman looked relieved and radiant.
I felt happy for her: There, all better. But I always wondered what happened when she got home? Home to "Did you laminate my math project?", the dog throwing up in the laundry basket, the grind of being a partner or parent. (She always had children, did Oprah think single women were exempt from being a mess?) The woman now had an additional job, that of pursuing her best life–and not in schlumpadinka sweats.
Now that "Oprah" is gone, the story plays out in other media outlets, over and over; this 'best life' tends to involve spa visits, book clubs and finally doing something about the living room.
I'll bet most of us have tried the quick fixes. I too have felt the blues lift while wiggling my glossy fresh pedicure. But eventually, we have to let go of the notion of perfection as the path to love (aka self-esteem): it's a Mug's Game for two reasons.
First, the ability to accept and love ones' self is not an event (especially televised), and second, it cannot be done by seeking perfection and beating on ones' self for deficiencies.
Because it was said so much better by her, so I'm posting this 4-minute clip of the late dancer Gabrielle Roth. In it, she does something remarkable: she invites us to accept every aspect of our selves, without perfecting, defending and spending energy hiding our flaws.
I keep thinking of it, so it's my Valentine to you.
"If we could accept everything and dance with it all..."
- Gabrielle Roth, 1941-2012