Recent inspirations, part one

As with most people of my generation, I spend a good portion of my day online. Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram – they are my daily companions. Not my only companions, of course, but my early morning, late night, midday break companions.

As I cruise around these sites I often find bits if inspiration. Lovely pictures, amazing words, things that I want to remember & feel for a long time to come. I generally save these to my phone to look at & weed through later, and I thought I’d share some of these with you:

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Influence & Persuasion

As do all things in life, the subject I’m about to discuss traces right back to Jane Austen. Jane was the master of the slight nuances and the big, painful realities. She knew that perception was key in relationships – men, women, friends, lovers, families. How we feel with people, our histories, our feuds, our friendships. It’s all perception.

Jane Austen said: What wild imagination one forms, where dear self is concerned! How sure to be mistaken!

A few assumptions, partially overheard conversations and, voila, someone’s pride is hurt, their previous warm feelings are questioned and they want to know – was it all a lie? Is this relationship contrived? A fake? A phony? Have I just been given lip service all this time, or was this real?

Don’t we all want to love and be loved in return? By family, friends and lovers alike. If I was a Beatle I would say, “All We Need is Love.”  See? It’s universal. If a Beatle said it, and writers have written about it for ages, and songs are sung about it ad nauseum, then it simply must be true.

It’s amazing how much human nature just absolutely DOES NOT CHANGE. Read Jane Austen now, in the present, and you’ll see the same interpersonal interactions that still occur today in similar circumstances.

We don’t change.

We don’t evolve our emotions. Daughters feel the same about their mothers and fathers. Parents feel the same about their children. Siblings bicker and love just the same. Jealously, spite, love, passion – the consistency of interpersonal relationships are one of the few constants in our society.

That includes irrational fears and insecurities. We all want to feel superior to some people and quite often we feel inferior to others. We all want to be well thought of and deemed worthy of love and praise. Remember the Bennet girls? Their value based on how they were rated by men and women alike. We’re the same. We judge. We gossip. We struggle to survive with our fragile, delicate little egos intact EVERY SINGLE BLEEPIN’ DAY.

To that end, we allow outside influences to infiltrate our minds. It settles in – reclines the la-z-boy and cracks a beer – and says, hey, this is my home, I’ve been here all along – didn’t you notice? And I’m going to stay. Pretty soon we don’t know which idea was ours and which was born from another place, another influence.

Is this idea me? Is it mine? Does it matter? If someone thought of it, and I like it and want to emulate it, does it matter that it wasn’t MINE first? I like it. It’s a good thought. It’s a good idea. I want to share it.

But at the end of the day the most important question should be – is this the genuine me? Would I naturally do this or am I being persuaded to do so by my own need to feel loved and wanted and admired? Sometimes I think that’s the hardest question of all.

Where do I end and my influences begin? And is there such a thing as plagiarizing a thought?

I just don’t know. We are all such strangely complex creatures yet our overall needs appear to be quite simplistic.

Alas, it’s 1 am and these riddles won’t be resolved tonight. I should have gone to bed an hour ago but I felt absolutely compelled to put my fingers to the keyboard and just throw out these rambling, unanswerable questions. Chalk it up to late-night soul-searching.

Good night, dear friends. Be genuine.

I’m in love . . . with Downton Abbey

A few weeks ago a co-worker, Allen, told me about Downton Abbey. It’s a new Masterpiece Classic miniseries on PBS. Allen works in Washington, D.C., and I only see him once or twice a year so I’ve never actually met his wife, but I know that we have something in common. This is how he knew I would like the series. You see, his wife and are both Janeites. What is a Janeite you say?
Jane·ite [ jáyn t ] (plural Jane·ites) noun
Definition:
devotee of Jane Austen: an expert on or admirer of the life and works of the English novelist, Jane Austen
You’re shocked, I know. I mean, if you have read any of my other posts then obviously you know I’m a Janeite.

When Allen told me how much his wife absolutely loves this series I definitely took heed of his advice. I knew I would forget so I sent myself a reminder email. Still, it was 3 weeks before I stumbled upon that email and then I finally watched the first of four 1 hour, 23 minute, episodes.

And I was hooked immediately. I love it! It’s so very Jane Austen (though off by about 100 years) in it’s comedy of manners. It’s wicked in a way you wouldn’t expect from a British period show. And it’s so well-made. The settings, the acting, oh, and the costumes! I love the costumes.
Try it. It’s available on PBS.org for a limited time: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/downtonabbey/index.html. 
Here’s a sample with the lovely Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern and Hugh Bonneville: 

Persuasion

Here’s that poem I promised you inspired by Anne Elliot from Persuasion:

Is it because she loved so deep?
Her love lying dormant and asleep;
Is it the years betwixt their sighting
That has born delusions alighting?
What would happen to the pair of them?
Alas, no pair in sight for hope has dimmed.
The fire that burned years hence
Dwindled to a kindle and lost all sense.
Oh! How that flame did burn so long ago;
And not so long, it seems, to forego
The dream, the fairytale scene;
But, no, not to be, inappropriate deemed.
Fairness, yes, unfortunately;
Moral obligation not taken lightly.
And yet the heart will do as it pleases;
It will weep, mourn and grieve until it releases.
The fire inside will diminish, in time;
Dear Lord, she begs, please hasten mine.
She bears it daily, hidden in her secret vault;
The pain is hers, and she alone is at fault. 
There are many secrets in a woman’s heart;
Buried, for safekeeping, if she’s smart.
Secrets, the solace of unrequited love

Like ashes, take flight on the wings of a dove.

Jane Austen – a warning

Among the various things on my desk (iPod chargers, checkbooks, bills (and more bills), Jelly Bellies, and Kleenexes) is a book called Jane Austen’s Little Advice Book (edited by Cathryn Michon and Pamela Norris). I’m warning you now because you WILL see Jane Austen quotes on a fairly regular basis. She is the inspiration for so many good things and the balm for all the bad things.

If you ever fear you are alone in your problems just know that you, decidedly, are not: 

“None of us expects to be in smooth water all our days.”

Persuasion, Jane Austen

Speaking of Persuasion, (it is neck-in-neck with Pride & Prejudice for my favorite Jane Austen book), remind me to share my Persuasion-themed poem one of these days.