Thursday, September 23, 2010

Madwoman speaks

Yesterday, a lady at the Red Box (where you rent movies for $1 a day) said I reminded her of Bridget Jones. We were conversing about our favorite movies. Apparently, we have the same taste in cinema. I was ahead of her and plucked The Last Station about the twilight of Leo Tolstoy's life out of the machine. She said I'd like that as well.

I was so pleased with her Bridget Jones comment because I LOVE Bridget and how she always puts all of herself out there no matter what. I floated home at the thought someone else saw that in me.

The Tolstoy movie was good, but very troubling to me. It cast his wife, the countess, as evil and encroaching on her husband's end-of-life work, which, he admitted, was spreading more love (and passive resistance) in the world. He really wanted to live a solitary, ascetic life, dismissing his longtime commitment to wife and children ... torn between obligation and abandonment. By then, he was the most celebrated living writer and had quite a following of like-minded admirers -- some of whom treated him as Christ. Even the countess saw through that. He was wooed by other Tolstoyans (any ego-fanning in that?) to give up all of his material possessions, which he did. It devastated his wife. It pushed her farther over the edge when he left in the middle of the night to live alone and die alone; in peace, as he said. Her reaction upon hearing the news the next morning was to throw herself in the pond.

He remained separated from her until news of illness reached the countess and she took the train to wait outside his sick room. Tolstoy's chief follower and daughter would not let her enter until it was almost too late. She ran in ranting about seeking his forgiveness, which he gave in an embrace, then expired.

If he preached love, how could he cut off his spouse and most of his children? And why was the countess seen as the madwoman? She was merely attempting to find her place in his new life. One claimed without her approval.

Bridget is also shown through the lens of the madwoman ... a single woman living out loud and savoring life ... mistakes and all.

Perhaps that's what appeals to me about these two sharply contrasting figures. Separated by time, age, culture, circumstance and even reality, they were unafraid to show emotion, express what they were feeling and be who they were ... way outside the norm.

Mostly, they were searching for love and acknowledgement. Love of self. Love of another. Being who they are. Being.

• What "mad woman (or man)" characters or people speak to me?
• What's their message?
• What part of me also rages?
• For what am I raging?
• How can acknowledging that madness free me?

over the top

much of
this and that

so much
and emotion

can't handle

and it's

set aside
as if
it were


part of
we are

which is
all we're
to be

1 comment:

  1. Dear Cathy,
    I follow your struggle with great interest because I feel (somehow) that it is mine too.
    You, as Bridget, or Tolstoy, or many of us, are trying to be Authentic. Something that I believe in these days is very hard to be...
    Please, do continue!