I need to start paying attention to the annual rhythms of my life. It seems to me I go through similar kinds of feelings from season to season, from year to year. Not that much gets resolves, mind you. But it does feel kind of cyclical.
Example: like a lot of people, I usually find myself re-examining my life about mid-January every year. Once the holidays are behind us and a new year is underway, I spend a great deal of non-productive time thinking about my life and how exactly it has progressed to this point. I rethink my job, my personal life, my activities, my resolutions, my plans...just about anything you can think of and every single year I come to no reasonable conclusion and make no startling changes about anything. I've worked at the same place for more than twenty years, I've been married for almost twenty-three years and have no taken up a new hobby in forever. (I'm not sure I have any hobbies if I think about it.)
But it's too early for all that; this isn't the new year and the post-holiday brooding I engage in annually. No, it's the start of fall and if my personal history means anything, I'm entering into my Jane-Austen-is-a-goddess phase. I've started re-reading Pride & Prejudice, I've already watched Sense and Sensibility, and the Masterpiece Theater version P&P as well, all four hours, with the most perfect Mr. Darcy ever conjured up by a casting director, Colin Firth. There must be something about the fall, the coziness of a room with a blanket, a cup of coffee or tea and a great story from Ms. Austen that just cries out for some attention. I just don't think I could ever read P & P on the beach. It's a fall book, requiring a blanket and fading afternoon light.
As I engage in all this Austen overload, I think about my life and ask myself the logical question: WWJD? (What would Jane do?)
Let's consider the incomparable Elizabeth Bennett in P & P. In Elizabeth, we discover a woman who seemingly didn't spend a lot of time questioning her life. (Well, maybe she did in some ways but let's face it, her choices were somewhat limited.) Even so, I admire her resolute behavior, her independence, her intelligence and her feistiness. I wish I had more of her (and Jane) in me. I doubt she ever spent one single second considering the shape of her thighs or her weight. She didn't regret her abs, her roots, or her wrinkles. She didn't buy product after product to address the size of her pores. In fact, if she felt insecurity about her appearance, she kept it to herself.
She never once seemed envious of anyone around her, although it could be reasonably said that many possessed more and had more opportunities afforded to them in life. She enjoyed the company of her friends and was attracted to particular men, but she never lost herself in her pursuit of friends or lovers. I have to think that was mostly unheard of in actual life for Jane and the women who surrounded her. Pride & Prejudice character Charlotte Lucas alludes to as much, when she talks of marriage and how love is a luxury many women can ill afford.
I need to be channeling a little more Jane and Elizabeth. For god's sake, at this point in my life, the insecurity is getting a little tiresome, even for me. Maybe if I pose the WWJD? question every time I want to succumb to the daily assaults on my self-esteem, I'd feel better. Like the next time I see that "one simple rule to lose your belly fat" or whatever that ever-present ad is every home page I visit, I'll close it without so much as a pang of regret. Maybe I won't click through another ad that will tell me how to get effective butt-shaping moves. And maybe I won't develop Michelle Obama's arms. I'll live. I might not look my best, but I'll live. The question is: WWJD? She would note them with polite interest and move on. Okay, it's not much. But it's a start.