Saturday, May 15, 2010

Eyes Wide Open

What is about visual stimulation that gets us so riled up as human beings?

What I mean by that is this - and here's where I'm gonna get pretty specific and hope you can follow my train of thought - why is it that the more we look at something the more we want it? The same doesn't always ring true of our other senses. The more I smell something, the more I want it? No. The more I taste it? Feel it? Hear it? No, no, no. But the more I look at something, the more I want it, and the harder it is for me to get it out of my mind.

AND I'M A WOMAN!!! We're not even the "visual" ones here. Guys are, or so the male/female differences myths go.

So, the reason I bring this up is threefold. One, I bought a dress today, a dress I probably could've not bought and been just as happy without. But a dress that I have been eyeing at Banana for weeks, both in the store and online. And yesterday, they changed their website, to have new "Summer Essentials" and my dress was featured as the dress of the season. And it looked gooooood. On the model, on the hanger, and in my mind's eye, on me. It's gorgeous. It just looked gorgeous.

Now don't get me wrong, I didn't go into debt for this dress or anything. I had a coupon as a matter of fact. But even still, as I was driving home from the mall thinking about my new dress, the words of an old friend's blog, where she recently posted about women, fashion and social consciousness and spirituality, came back to me. Why do we, as women, feel so tied to fashion? I know I definitely am. Nooooo doubt about it, I'm a fashion-holic, and I can't even apologize in good faith for it. But that's another post for another time. I digress.

I was thinking about this dress, on the way home today, and asked myself "what prompted me to wait, till my coupon became active, and buy THIS dress, in particular, when I could have bought countless other pretty dresses?" I can name a few. The grey Tracey Reese from Anthro. The pink Trina Turk from Macys. But I chose the brown and white safari print from Banana Republic. Why? And I realized that despite liking these other dresses, I'd been following this one online and in the store, watching it, stalking it, as it were. I'd seen it, a lot, and in seeing it, over and over again, looking at it, watching it, I wanted it more and more.

This dress was Bathsheba, and I, I am David hanging out on his roof on a Saturday night. Sad.

But the thought behind this post, about the nuances of vision and desire, goes beyond a dress. This principle has applied to other areas of my life. And I am sure that as any of my guy friend's can attest, the link between the visual and our desires is fitfully binding and probably uncooperative. I've had to train myself the hard way in other areas of my life, to just not look at certain things, because of the emotional response it creates in me. Unlike my guy friends, my response is strictly emotional. I would wager they also battle with the physical ramifications of what they see.

I've been struggling back and forth with the same crush for a while now. Sometimes I'm over it, and sometimes I'm not. Often, the times when I'm trying the hardest to just forget how I feel about this guy, are the times when I've had to train myself to just not look him in the eyes. I am almost afraid too, as if the second I do I'm gonna melt into a big helpless puddle, and he's gonna see right through me to my soul, and know exactly how I still feel. I'm afraid my words will fail me, I'll blabber and be incoherent, or maybe time itsef will stand still and I'll be trapped, feet locked in cement, and unable to run away. No matter what the irrational and inexplicable fear of looking him in the eye is, it's taken great courage and resolution and logic for me to get past it and just look my friend in the eyes. Sometimes I think it's better not to, eyes are, after all, the window to the soul.

Does any of that make sense? No. But then neither does the phrase "Sometimes we don't do the things we want to do, so that others won't know we want to do them". Ivy Walker said that in The Village (amazing love story, and probably my favorite M. Night Shamyalan film by the way). It's one of my favorite quotes, and sometimes exactly how I feel.

Anywho, I digress. So, the dress, the crush, and then this: The same friend who was blogging about women and our ties to fashion, was also blogging recently about her and her husband's struggles in waiting for adoption. It's been a long time, and I guess her maternal clock is ticking like a time bomb. Gee, I really don't know what that's like. In reference to her maternal clock and desires for chidren, she said:

"There have been seasons where it has been unbearable, particulary when I first started working at an elementary school, and was overwhelmed by the hilarious, energetic, adorable ways of the children. Sometimes when I had to walk across the playground during recess, I'd get choked up and have to look away, hoping not to actually trip over any of the litte ones I was trying not to look at."

Her authenticity and vulnerability in sharing her inability to even look at the kids is awe-inspiring. You should all read her blog, just because she's a distant friend who I once went to college with, who's fashion sense and general beauty I have always admired and she lives in Portland, which makes me hella jealous!! (Sidenote - Trinette's dream life = living in a beach house in Portland, OR with my amazingly wonderful, handsome, spiritually atune husband, our two adorable children and running my own vegan/gluten free catering bakery business. I'm just sayin's all.) Anyways, this friend, she may not even remember me, but I remember always being in awe of her, and now her willingness to share not being able to even look at the little rugrats she works with confirms that she's still a marvelously cool person.

Like me, and the dress I became obsessed with through viewing it repeatedly, and the on-again/off-again crush I can't even look in the eyes, she finds a tie between what we view and what we want. Or what we can't view because we want it so much. I'm not the only one who feels this way, I guess.

And just think, if this is a problem for us women, and we are genetically hard-wired to be less apt to respond to visual stimulation than our beleagured brothers, then imagine how hard it must be for them. Yikes! I don't drive down the street and have to avoid most billboards. The ads in the windows at Victorias Secret that scream out "Hello Bombshell", while offensive because of how they affect men I love and respect, don't really affect me all that much. I can watch shows like Weeds, or True Blood, because, while they put it all out there on display, that doesn't affect me the way, say watching The Notebook does. My poor, poor guy friends, who care to keep their hearts, eyes and minds pure - I applaud you all, and want to encourage you that in your visual battles, you are winning the respect and admiration of your friends and sisters! Keep up the good work.

And if you have any pointers I could benefit from, that would be great. Because let's face it. There are a lot of pretty dresses, beautiful big eyes, and adorable children out there. And though I can hide behind my Banana sunglasses, I can't hide from the world. They can't see in, but I can still see out. And therein, likes my problem. There's too much too see, too much I want, too much I can't have, and frankly, I don't want to go through this life with eyes wide shut.

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