She, like many people in my "real" life, was astonished to find out that I write. She asked to read the piece and was also, I think, surprised that it wasn't complete garbage. She asked me if I thought I could expand the piece, and foolishly, I said that I could, never guessing what she had in mind. A couple of days later she called and asked me to address a Christian women's group. Caught off guard, I agreed, though I was cringing inwardly. I'm a writer and a Godless Heathen, not an inspirational speaker.
Thankfully, for a number of reasons, the engagement never came to fruition. To say I was relieved would be a huge understatement.
But I should have known that my friend wasn't ready to let me off the hook. Once she sinks her teeth into an idea, she will gnaw on it until she has chewed it into submission and made it fit her agenda somehow.
She emailed me yesterday and once again asked me to address a group of women. This is not a Christian Women's group per se, but geography dictates that a healthy percentage of these women will be Christians. That's okay though. I can deal with a Christian audience as long as I am not being made to tailor my thoughts to fit an ideal I don't subscribe to. I am much more comfortable with this proposal, and I accepted, not influenced at all by the fact that this engagement comes with a paycheck.
And then I thought….What the hell have I done?
In my relief at not having to address Christians it seems I have forgotten one minor detail; that being...I am not a public speaker.
I tried the Forensics club in High School at the suggestion of my Language Arts teacher, who thought my writing made me well suited to speaking. That seems a little like suggesting that a Plumber might have some aptitude for the Confectionary Arts, but that didn't occur to me at the time. I gave it a go with resoundingly disastrous results.
I don't have a voice that projects, I am not animated or interesting. My speaking voice is flat, bland and coma inducing. I am going to have to join Toastmasters pronto so I can gain some measure of competence if I am going to keep from completely humiliating myself and my friend.
Plus, I don't have a flipping thing to wear.
Here is the piece I will be using as the basis for my Speech. Wish me Luck... or...just wish me not sucking.
Avail yourself of the "next blog" button, and you will likely discover that there are some desperately unhappy people out there. They pour out their bitterness, loneliness and melancholy, just waiting for someone to come along and acknowledge their heartache; desperately hoping for validation that their misery is justified. Sometimes, there is an abundance of commiseration. Sometimes there is none.
I feel a subtle but salient stab of pity when the latter is true. The nurturing instinct with which nature has blessed womankind sometimes compels me to leave my own comment, assuring them that someone feels their pain, even if it is only a random stranger on the internet. The urge is especially strong if the author happens to be a confused teenager struggling through all that harrowing coming of age crap that the Cosmos insists we endure on the road to adulthood.
But along with the pity there is puzzlement. I wonder why they don't do something to change the circumstances that have brought them to the depths of despair, and why they wallow so contentedly in their discontent.
Before the advent of the internet, and my travels along the information superhighway, I always thought of myself as a high maintenance individual. Why? I suppose because I have high standards, though to be fair, I expect no more of people than I offer in return. Sure, I've been disappointed by life and the people in it a time or two. Who hasn't? Sure, it bothers me. But I pick myself up, dust myself off and move on. How?, you may ask. The answer is simple.
New lipstick is a little piece of happiness in a sleek and gleaming fuselage. A creamy profusion of just right color, sharply slanted and pristine; waiting to brighten my expectant lips. It has the power to transform not just my face, but my entire outlook. It gives me the courage and optimism to meet life challenges with the grace, strength, and resolve that I know I am capable of. Because new lipstick makes me realize that there are a million little things in this life that make the effort worthwhile.
Make up, and the use of it, is thought by some to embody the enslavement to an ideal; that of women as mere objects. That, quite frankly, is pseudo intllectual tripe. Since the dawn of time man and woman alike have adorned themselves with whatever means availabe. Its an avenue of self-expression that is by no means a contemporary concept. To pride oneself on one's appearance is neither shallow, nor vain..it is simply the manisfestation of the uniquely human love of beauty. Beauty makes people happy. And I have to wonder...are those who can't find joy in the simple beauty life offers us, doomed to suffer eternal ugliness of the spirit?
Am I suggesting that lipstick can fix a bad marriage, cure terminal illness, or bring back a lost loved one? No, certainly not. Am I suggesting that lipstick can cure clinical depression or other biochemical disorders? No. That would be monumentally ignorant. But I do think that those who can take comfort in simple pleasures amid great hardship and tribulation, are those who will rise above and triumph in the end. Those who find a way to succor and sustain their spirit will always come out on top.
Find your spiritual lipstick and apply it with a heavy hand.
Perhaps it is the warm anaesthesia of a crackling fire. Maybe it is the noble promise of a brand new book. It could be the decadance of a steaming, fragrant bath replete with with bubbles or the rich sweetness of a $4 calorie laden coffee creation. Perhaps it is the earthy satisfaction of hands covered in soil and fertilizer, or flour and sugar. Maybe it is even the sensual whisper of new not cotton underwear. All of these work well for me individually, or better yet, all together in a cataclysm of self-indulgence.
Whatever it is...revel in the comfort it brings you. Use it as a balm for your soul. Take refuge in the sheer hedonism without shame and without apology. There is nothing noble or erudite or insightful about suffering for suffering's sake, and if anyone suggests to you that enjoyment of such simple pleasures makes you slow-witted or superficial, you can feel perfectly justifed in handing them a Thesaurus to comfort them in their time of need.
Without lipstick, I might have actually killed my fiancee or myself all those years ago when he unabashedly announced that he was sleeping with by best friend. Instead, I recovered and lived to torment a far better man. The lipstick I bought that day was called "To the Rescue Red". I still have it. I don't wear it in public anymore, but it's still my favorite pick me up and it still serves my Spirit well.