By Jeannie Perry
As we age, we lose many things: our innocence, our idealism, our car keys… There is a beautifully simple sense of wonder and joy to life when we are young, but then it seems to fade as we become preoccupied with work, money, appliances… My biggest question for the middle-ages is this, “Where does the joy go?”
Is joy simply manufactured and maintained by fairy tales in the first place? And by the time we figure out Prince Charming is not coming (and would we want him anyway? He does seem to be a bit simple) we are so far down the path that turning back now seems pointless… Or, is joy in limited universal supply and so we have to sacrifice ours in order for the younger generation to have any? Or could it be just as every adult always said it would be- complicated.
I remember the disbelieving look I gave when they said, “you’ll understand when you’re older.” I also remember getting a purse for the first time and searching in vain for something I needed to carry with me at all times. Today, I go into the bank and drop my bigger-than-a-bread-box bag on the counter, stick my entire head inside and search through the many forms of payment, proof of identity, keys to my success, etc. Oh, how I long for the days of a small zippered bag containing only a pencil and a tube of watermelon lip gloss.
As a girl in the 1970s I was brought up to be flexible and pleasing, acquiescing to the world around me. I thought stubborn resistance was a negative quality. Not only was I taught not to rock the boat, but it was on me to make sure everyone was comfortably seated with something to drink and a sandwich… It took me a long time to own my space on the sidewalk, to not apologize for holding my ground. And some days I still catch myself taking a path of least resistance.
But I am resisting the urge to chuck it all and move to the Desert Oasis Trailer Park. I stay in the daily circus because of all the plates I have in the air. All the people and pets relying on me, and the notion that progress only comes with great sacrifice, i.e., sacrificing the desire to stay under the covers. Although I must admit, that is exactly what I do sometimes. My idea of joyful resistance is to stay in the basement watching C Thomas Howell movies on a blue-sky day. Or to have waffle cheese toast for Sunday dinner. Or to sit in the middle of the roundabout with a cocktail and some of my favorite women in the world as the rest of town drives by, honking and waving; a.k.a. Ladies of the Roundabout.
The older I get, the more I realize that resistance doesn’t always have to be a struggle. Peaceful insubordination is an effective tool that every woman should have in her tool box, just like duct tape and WD-40. (Remember, if it moves and it shouldn’t; duct tape. If it doesn’t move, but it should; WD-40.) This I-got-mine-and-it’s-not-my-problem-that-you-can’t-get-yours attitude may be prevalent in our government today, but it’s not the American way. The American Dream has always been about perseverance of the underdog. All of our fables favor the immigrant selling his wares on the street, not the billionaire businessman hiding in his palace.
As a society, we throw away enough food to feed everyone on the planet, but we can never produce enough dividends to satisfy the top 1% of corporate shareholders. And that is why I write, march, post and call. And why I actively look for ways to buck the establishment with glee. I enjoy my resistance in much the same way the princess enjoys her menial tasks because they give her time to sing. Which brings the joy.
Jeannie is a writer, publisher, and bean counter, who lives in Satank- the perfect place to cook up joyfully resistant schemes.