Last night, I watched him in his workshop.
Do you need anything, I asked.
No, but would you like to hang out?
And I did. He’s building a work bench we can carry to job sites. For a moment, I thought about asking him if he’d built a workbench before, but decided against it. I decided that surely he had, and imagined him customizing the toolshed that is now his ex-wife’s.
I pictured him in it’s empty shell measuring and sawing. In my mind’s eye, I saw him stepping back and silently assessing the merits of his work.
I quietly marveled at how men seem to fill nothingness with something.
They construct. They build.
They make and make more of.
Women, however, seem more inclined to reduce.
Men gladly take up space. Bulking up. Man spreading. Earth moving. Bigger is better.
Why don’t women, I wondered.
We are motivated by other forces.
We strive to reduce. To minimize. To create more space.
Weight loss. Skinny jeans. Minimalism. Domestic prowesses.
Smaller. Less weighty. Less clutter. Less.
Even the most fashionable of shoes have the smallest heel points.
We have a litany of hormones coursing through our bodies–to a much greater degree and variation than men–and yet we are called “crazy” for revealing these frequent and internally-guided shifts. Be less crazy, we’re told. Be less emotional.
Today’s meditation talks about repression and acceptance.
So much of our anguish is created when we’re in resistance. We waste our time, expend our energy, and make things harder by resisting, repressing, and denying. Repressing a thought will not make it disappear. Repressing a thought already formed will not make us a better person. Think it. Let it come to reality. Then release it. A thought is not forever. If we do not like it we can think another one or can change it. But to do that, we must accept and release the first thought.
One of my favorite authors had her character say, “I should have been a great many things.” And it’s something I often tell myself.
Over the course of my 36 years, I’ve attempted to invent and reinvent myself dozens of times. And much of that reinvention was motivated by a desire to be less. I reasoned that if I was less, I could be more.
My eating disorder developed out of loneliness. I starved myself believing that if I took up less space, I’d be more loved. I stripped the color out of my brunette hair to be more beautiful as a blonde. I’ve struggled into skinny jeans to be more fashionable. I’ve suppressed emotions to be regarded less “crazy,” and more “stable.” I’ve considered draining my bank account for tummy tucks and thigh lifts and breast implants to be more desirable. I’ve played up the roles of helplessness, ignorance, and softness to appear more approachable.
But when our lives revolve around doing and being less, that is exactly what we get.
My eating disorder left me with less hair. My efforts to be blonde left that less hair less healthy. The skinny jeans left me feeling less than skinny. Repressing my emotions made me less happy. The plastic surgery plans left me feeling less authentic. And the myriad of roles played left me believing myself less than capable.
I want more.
More of everything.
I want to be more, think more, and do more.
I want to build me.
I want to take up space. I want to plan and build and tinker. I want to step back and evaluate the merits of my work. I want my dreams to fill the world around me. I want to invent and reinvent. I want to leave an indelible mark.
I want more.