AGING: To thyself be truePeople (you and I especially) should be happiest when they allow their own personalities to come out naturally rather than attempting to conform to a stereotype or popular image.
By: Bernie Hughes, The Daily Telegram
People (you and I especially) should be happiest when they allow their own personalities to come out naturally rather than attempting to conform to a stereotype or popular image. Lucky for most of us, not being politicians, we don’t have to play, every day, what would be considered a politically-correct role. We don’t have to, but too often we do. What are the expectations at this event? What should I wear? When should I arrive? And the list goes on and on.
What is a stereotype? It is a kind of mental cookie cutter. Members of this group, of which we have a stereotype, all tend to have the same characteristics: Old fogies tend to get a little crotchety. Blacks can jump higher that whites. Stereotypes don’t have to be real — they can be imagined as well. One of my favorite aphorisms that makes the point humorously is “All American Indians walk in single file; at least the one I saw did.”
Real sexy women are the Barbie-doll type with breast implants, short skirts, deep cut, low revealing blouses and, too often, anorexic. Real men are the G.I. Joe kind of guys, tough, strong, quiet and emotionally reserved.
I hope my Republican friends will not castigate me for a political example (anymore than they do anyway), but I feel a bit sorry for Hillary Clinton now. Likable women are supposed to be soft spoken, laid back, cuddly, people. Hillary is a strong women with opinions that she is not afraid to enunciate quite clearly and forcefully. Will that sink her presidential ambitions? Could it be that our nation is not ready for a woman to be president? After all, it has never been done that way here before. (Hey! That could be another essay subject.)
But back to you and me. Look around you at the next funeral. There will be weepy women and steely eyed men, both feeling inwardly sad, but playing the stereotype role considered the female or male thing to do. Maybe a strong motivation for me to write this essay is that the male part has been hard for me to play. In a real sad movie, I have to keep wiping the tears off my glasses. That gives me away and just isn’t the correct role a would-be he-man should play.
But, if the truth would be known, all of us would lead happier and more real lives doing what comes naturally rather than playing a part that we believe to be the correct one. Remember the song “I Gotta Be Me!” That makes the point that I’m trying to make:
“Whether I’m right
or whether I’m wrong,
Whether I find a place in this old world
or never belong.
I gotta be me.”
Yes, we (me too) all know that there are times, places and events where common courtesy demands that we play a part. Hopefully they don’t have to make up too much of our lives. Because I truly think we’d rather be me.
Care to dance?
Some time those stereotypes can turn out to be too true for real comfort. Ted Turner bought him some real he-man land out in Montana, a ranch, a real big ranch. (Ted had heard that some of the generational westerners didn’t really cotton to Hollywood types buying up good western grazing land for hobby ranches, but he figured it was mostly rumor).
One Saturday afternoon, Ted, out appreciating his relatively new spread, noticed a speck in the distance and it kept getting bigger. After some time he could see it was dust from a running horse. And then up rode the biggest, ugliest, meanest, orneriest looking cowpoke he had ever seen. Without cracking a smile the cowpoke said in a deep bass voice, “Invitin’ ya’ to a party.”
Ted says, “That’s nice; we haven’t met any of our neighbors.
Cowpoke says, “Gonna’ be some drinkin’!”
Ted says, “Fine, I enjoy a libation now and then.”
Cowpoke says, “Gonna’ be some dancin’!”
Ted says, “We enjoy tripping the light fantastic once in a while.”
Cowpoke says, “Gonna’ be some fightin’!”
Ted says, “Well, I don’t consider myself a fighter, but I captained that sailing sloop in international competition and I had some deck hands that had to be disciplined.”
With that the cowpoke starts riding away and Ted hollers, “What should I wear?” The cowpoke turns the horse around and looking Ted right in the eyes he says, “Don’t matter none; just gonna be you and me!”
Bernie Hughes, Ed. D., is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at Bernie1@cpinternet.com.