It was around eight in the
morning. The lift stopped on the fifth floor. In came a woman and a little girl
of about five. They had to be mother and daughter as they looked so alike, the
same round face and sparkling eyes. As they walked in, the girl was clinging to
the mother’s legs nagging her at the same time.
“Mom, I want to be you! You don’t
have to go to school.” “Mary, I want to be YOU!” This dialogue brought back to my
mind a movie which I used for students’ school-based assessment 11 years ago - Freaky Friday, a 2003 film based
on the novel of the same name by Mary Rodgers. It stars Lindsay Lohan as Anna
Coleman and Jamie Lee Curtis as her mother. In the film, their souls are
switched due to an enchanted Chinese fortune cookie. The whole story is about
how each copes with the new role and the problems that come along ending with
mother-daughter relationship improved and their identities switched back. Trading places or swapping
identities has been the theme of many stories such as the popular children’s
story of The Prince and the Pauper.
It is a novel by famous American author Mark Twain first published in 1881. Set
in 1547, it tells the story of two young boys who are identical in appearance:
Tom Canty, a pauper who leads a miserable life, and Prince Edward, son of King
Henry VIII. The two boys get to know one another by chance. Fascinated by each
other's life and their strange resemblance, they decide to switch clothes
"temporarily". Edward leaves the court for Tom to be the prince. After
a series of adventures and the death of the King, Edward and Tom switch back to
their original places. Edward with first-hand knowledge about the life of the
poor is crowned as King Edward VI. He vows to be a good king and in gratitude
he bestows honour on Tom. How many times has such thought of
swapping identities come to your mind? And if you were given such a chance,
which person would you want to trade with? The person you love most, hate most
or envy most? And how would you persuade that person to accept your offer? I know which person’s identity I
want to assume but I am sure he would not want to be me!
We all have such
an experience – a state of captivity and numbness. These are days when we
simply surrender to life’s challenges which might be something overwhelming or
the last straw on the camel’s back or sheer boredom. We feel like trapped in a
maze too exhausted to attempt the escape. "The Circle Game” featured in Joni
Mitchell's third album, Ladies of the
Canyon, released in 1970 comes in handy.
captive on the carousel of time
can't return we can only look behind
where we came
go round and round and round
the circle game
This is the burnout syndrome. Faced with mounting challenges whether from work or family, we are
so exhausted that we stop fighting back or we find ourselves simply stifled by
boredom. Whatever the cause may be, we have to re-activate ourselves by first
examining our situation.
Is it a situation we want to be
in? How long can we stay there stuck? Why are we there? Is it the best for
ourselves? These are solid questions we have to answer!
Want to stay in the situation –
same job, same relationship? Then get re-energized to improve it. Get help if
the challenges are overwhelming. Voice your objection if the workload keeps
increasing or if the relationship is upsetting you. If life is too monotonous,
create new dimensions. Break your routine. Make new friends. Start a new hobby.
Want to uproot yourself from the
situation, make preparations for the change to come. Take it as a project and
plan it but not to the greatest details. That would be too nerve-wracking.
Life does not have to be a circle
game. Make the present enjoyable and look ahead to a known future coloured by
surprises that you can handle!
How do men show their love to
their ladies? A poem or a bouquet? A diamond ring or a watch? A sports car or a
yacht? A hug or a tender word? Some quiet moments together? A walk on the
beach? All these are too good to be true! Such scenario only exists in fairy
tales, movies and dreams! Any girls who harbour such fantasies will definitely
go crazy! Yet even a mature lady like me, I do sometimes entertain myself with
such an imagery – a surprise kiss!
As a romantic relationship
develops, the man and the woman become husband and wife and then father and
mother, gone are the sweet talks and even the physical appeal. Their
conversations are never about how they feel for each other but always about the
third party – the children, the pets, their careers etc. Soon the wives find
that the time spent with the husbands are always in crowds of friends or
relatives or colleagues. They are not spending time alone anymore! Wives dare
not make the moves as all ladies won’t! They are waiting for their husbands to
re-discover their femininity. That sometimes is hard when the wives have long
decided to reveal their true selves in front of their men. While women can
tolerate men’s receding hairline, big tummy and untidy habits, men secretly
pray that their mates can retain their youthfulness. When their wives can’t
satisfy their fantasy, they look elsewhere! These days, they don’t have to look
Once the first unfaithful step is
taken, the husband sees everything wrong in the wife! Yet the wife who might
have smelt disloyalty endures hoping the derailing is only a fling and the man
will soon be back body and soul! He might and he might not depending on the
pull factor. He keeps the wife and the family as they provide a safe haven he
might have to go back to!
Here is part of the lyrics of The
Carpenters’ "Love Me For What I Am" which sums up how a woman feels
the change in her man.