A Poem Recitation and Reflection: The Two Glasses

I decided I’d do something different today! So, this is my favorite poem. It’s written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, who is most known for writing the poem, “Solitude.” It’s a really neat poem, and I even performed it last year in my theatre class. I decided to recite it instead of perform it because I am currently still in my pajamas (wooh, snow days!), and I don’t have super nice quality video cameras and such. So, I hope you enjoy my recitation, even though I don’t have any pictures or exciting visuals to go with it.

I also wanted to reflect on the meaning of the poem. On the surface, we can obviously see it drawing a contrast between wine and water in this imaginary conversation they have. Wine is the more stereotypical “powerful” player in this game, but water is shown to have its own quiet strength. Wine lovers, do not fear! There is nothing inherently wrong with wine; problems only occur when people misuse it. As I said, it really comes down to the way we view strength. Wine exerts its strength by hurting people and forcing them to do things they might not normally do. But water has a different kind of strength: the kind that helps instead of hurts; the kind that gives instead of takes. Water says, “I set the wine-chained captive free, and all are better for knowing me.” Water proves itself to be stronger than wine in this scenario because its helping hand completely nullifies the strength of wine.

And I liked that, because in society, we like to glorify physical strength, even to the point where it hurts everything around it. We glorify this idea of conquest–of people, of money, of “fame, strength, wealth, genius.” But that’s not where real strength lies.

Just a thought,

Epylle Spydre

p.s. You don’t need a cool glass of lemonade today; it’s fine if you curl up on the couch with hot chocolate. 🙂

p.p.s. If you want a transcript of the poem, here ’tis (even thought it’s missing a line, dunno why…):
http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-two-glasses/

Why we Desperately Need Our Parents

I came across a blog post titled “To the girl without a father.” The writer spoke of her own journey through life, trying to find validation from men other than her father, how that brought her to rock bottom, but how she was ultimately saved by faith. And I appreciated the post. I think a lot of girls need to hear that yes, earthly fathers (and mothers) do fail. And that no, our value and worth is not determined by the attention that anyone, man or woman, can give us, even if it’s so tempting to believe that. And you won’t all believe me, but God really truly does love you and is the perfect father we’ve all been looking for. 

But I don’t think that message is just for girls. What about the boys? What about the men out there, searching for the person who will show them what it means to be a man? So I address this “To the men without a father.”

Unlike the author of the blog post I mentioned earlier, I do not have firsthand experience in this and can therefore, not address it as I would address a former self. But I do know you. I don’t know all of you in person or what your story is. Maybe your dad died when you were little, maybe your father is an alcoholic, maybe your parents are divorced, or maybe you and your dad just don’t get along.

Society is stupid and says that girls have to be pretty, and guys have to be strong. Girls aren’t supposed to have complex characters; we’re all basically supposed to be emotional children who talk all the time. Guys, on the other hand, aren’t allowed to show emotions like sadness or humility. You’re supposed to be strong representatives of “the male species,” once again, no complex characters here.

So you grow up hearing from social media that you’re supposed to be completely strong and stoic WHEN EVERY MAN IN THEIR RIGHT MIND KNOWS THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE. But you have no one to tell you that. So you try to live up to that ideal. And you fail. Try again. Fail again. Try, fail, try, fail. Again, and again, and again. And then you just feel like a failure, because no one has told you otherwise. And you end up feeling ashamed because you measure your worth on a scale piled high with all of your failures.

Just like the girl who tries to define her worth against her relationships with men, it’s unhealthy for a man to define his worth against his failure to be what he thinks men are supposed to look like. That’s why you need a father, biological or otherwise, to show you.

Image

A picture of family in the animal world.
http://thelifeofpictures.wordpress.com/

I also want to target the subject of mothers. No, I’m not forgetting you. You all are the wonderful people who carried us into this world and nurture and protect us as we grow up. And just like our fathers, you accompany us on our journey to discover who we are. And that’s why parents are so vitally important. Parents are the first people we meet who have developed their sense of self, and we follow their example in doing so, pretty or not.  It all comes down to identity, which, other than the unmerited love of God, is the only thing we can count on to have in this world.

Epylle Spydre

p.s.  Yes, I was specifically targeting the boys out there, mostly because I feel like I felt like they needed to hear it more. But I tried to make this relatable to the girls too. Because the true mark of humanity, not of masculinity or femininity exclusively, is this mix of strength and weakness. We are complicated people. We fail. None of us are strong enough. And it’s time we start acting like we know this. 

You can be a Princess too

Ask anybody in my generation, and they will tell you that Disney is our childhood. Now, because I lived in Turkey for the first nine years of my life, my childhood was a little different than the average American’s. I never watched the “classic” Lizzie Mcguire moviesand while I knew people who played with Pokémon cards, I never played with them myself. But Disney was definitely a part of my childhood. I watch Mary Poppins or The Aristocats now and all the memories come flooding back. Nostalgia is a beautiful thing. And Disney is the best agent for bringing that nostalgia.

But as I’m growing up (I can’t say that I’m all grown up; I haven’t “become” anything yet!), I’m starting to see the holes in Disney’s stories. It started in 7th grade when they told us that Walt Disney was racist and that we could see that in Dumbo, Fantasia, and many others. And of course, I’ve always disagreed with Disney’s endorsement of the idea of “love at first sight.” I recognized early on that there was something wrong with the idea of loving someone for their physical attraction, even if I couldn’t necessarily articulate it at the time.

Then, a couple summers ago, I was able to articulate my dissatisfaction. I ranted about how society values physicality instead of character, brains, or talent. It was relieving to get that off my chest when I’d been internally ranting about it for years. I thought I was done after I wrote that post. I wasn’t.

You see, Disney doesn’t just endorse love at first sight or the glorification of our physical selves; it also restricts the female image. Now, who are the obvious female Disney characters? The princesses, of course! What do the princesses do? Practically nothing. Well, Mulan saves China, and that’s kind of awesome (though she technically isn’t a princess).

But just think about it: as a young girl, which characters am I bombarded with the most? The princesses. And that’s cool, I guess. But then what’s my image of a princess? A girl who wears pretty dresses and falls in love. Maybe I’m a bit bookish, so I connect to Belle. Or maybe “I have a dream,” and my affinity lies with Rapunzel.

But ultimately, their happy ending lies with the fact that they have their man. Is that seriously all we girls are supposed to do? Let’s just completely disregard the fact that real-life princesses are strong, intelligent leaders who do way more than just try out fancy hairstyles so they can go to balls while wearing their way-more-than-humanly-tight dresses. And Disney isn’t the only culprit. We are literally surrounded by movies and books and this and that that tell us that as women, our life’s greatest achievement is true love. Which it’s not. We may be loving creatures, but we don’t need to be defined by our quest for romantic love. We can be strong, fearless, clever, funny, happy, and successful, all without romantic love or all the other stuff that’s been shoved down our throats. 

Now I have also watched some really awesome videos recently saying similar things from a man’s perspective. I really enjoy that insight because I think it’s important to realize that the fact that Hollywood has weak female protagonists doesn’t just affect women; it affects men, too. And because I’m not a man and cannot speak to the men out there without feeling super biased, I’ll just give you those links here:

http://www.upworthy.com/48-reporters-asked-this-guy-the-same-dumb-question-about-women-his-response-absolutely-perfect

http://www.upworthy.com/little-boys-learn-a-lot-from-watching-star-wars-and-it-isnt-all-good

Image

 

We can all be real, strong princesses (and princes, for that matter). Let’s not wait for the clock to strike 12 before we figure that out. 

Epylle Spydre

Strong and Courageous

Today, I am inspired by a picture my sister took when we went to the zoo:
301219_125992557496806_3226335_n

I love this picture because it has my favorite animal in it: the tiger. I’ve had an affinity for tigers ever since I got a tiger stuffed animal, lovingly christened Tidy because of my inability to say the word “tiger” when I was 1. I still have him, and he will definitely be coming to college with me. So I’ve loved tigers. They’re such beautifully fierce creatures, proud of their strength and ferocity. But you know, you can’t really tell in the picture above. Because that tiger was in a zoo, tamed and assimilated into a life that includes far more human interaction than there should be. Don’t worry; I’m not going to get into the morals of animals in captivity (though my mother would love that). No, I am going to talk about humans in captivity.

Say what? People aren’t in cages or chains. Though, there is still human slavery, in the vein of sex trafficking. It’s disgusting and demeaning, and just thinking about it makes me terribly sad. But as awful as that kind of slavery is, I actually want to talk about a different type of slavery, one that people really don’t think about. This is a mental slavery, one whose chains are lies.

Yes, lies are powerful enough to shackle us. Especially right now, with all the technology that makes the media so prevalent in our lives. These are the lies that tell young girls that unless they’re a size 0, they’re fat and ugly and that nobody will ever love them. These are the lies that tell us to reach for the stars but don’t give us a rocket to get there. These are the lies that constantly make us compare ourselves to others. More than anything else, these are the lies that always say, “You’re just not good enough.” It’s a mind game, because we’re pushed to perfection, but when we fall short, even by a little bit, it’s deemed a complete failure. I know that whenever I make even the smallest mistake, I criticize myself harshly. I may get a light reprimand or warning from someone else, but then I take it on myself to punish myself. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s a good example of the emphasis our society puts on the impossible goal of perfection.

But then failure feels comfortable. Imperfection makes us complacent. Who am I to try to be great when I know how unlikely it is? Marianne Williamson wrote (you may know this from the movie, Akeelah and the Bee), “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
This is where the tiger part comes in. We are all like tigers, strong and beautiful. But we’ve been tamed, made to believe that we’ll never be good enough to be great. And then we start to fear that. Courage, also, falls prey to the stifling of human greatness, whatever form it may come in.

The truth can set you free. Throw off your shackles because you’re stronger than you think.

Epylle Spydre