When should I just give up?

So, another of my somewhat secret, no longer so secret predilections: I love me some advice columns. Any old advice column will do - Dear Abby (though she frequently ruffles my feminist feathers), Dear Prudence (though she too gets under my skin with her frequent Emily Post referrals), Cary Tennis anachronistic Since You Asked column at Salon, Dan Savage and his delightful neologisms on Savage Love, hell, even Dear Margo at Wowowow (don't even get me started on my issues with that site). I think there's something about the image of the advice columnist as a sort of been-there-done-that paragon of worldliness that draws me in. You get the sense (especially with those more traditional, subtly brassy, on husband no. so-and-so ladies and their "don't ask me how I know" snark) that their current empathy and insight into any number of common and not-so-common problems were fired in a mighty hot kiln.

I've only recently gotten turned on to Cary Tennis' column, via a recent Jezebel post on the same subject, and I have to say that I've been mixed about it. Mostly because he writes a LOT and his readers write a LOT and when I'm blowing through my blogroll (er, that sounds kind of dirty), it's difficult to focus on such large chunks of prose (I should talk). But this letter just broke my heart and made me realize that the additional focused energy will pay off with this one.

My answer to this woman's question would obviously have to be NEVER. Never give up! Never surrender! Why do so many people - women in particular - shove their dreams aside to fulfill the status quo of spouse, kids, house, career? And why oh why do the two have to be mutually exclusive (it seems like hubby isn't pulling his weight, and surely kids can fend for themselves on a lot of things after a certain age)? Obviously, this woman isn't going to be the next Joan Jett, but she missed a lot of years of physical dexterity and schedule flexbility only to find that learning is that much more difficult as she enters middle age. Not to say that learning something later on is impossible, or even undesirable (I'd like to think that I will continue learning until well into old age!), not at all! But I've heard too many people say, "once I do [X], then I will [pick up the guitar, start writing, painting, &c.] again". Those people at once break my heart and remind me of myself. Such is the appeal of the advice column. It's like a big ole empathy group hug.


Jen said…
Oh my goodness... No! It broke my heart, too. She obviously adores it, why would she ever stop? Argh, I will take it as resolve just to never give up on my own things!

Popular Posts