Friday, September 6, 2013

Style and Grace

Recently I watched an interview on Turner Classic Movies that ignited some thoughts.

The subject of the interview actress Kim Novak. She was interviewed by Robert Osborne during the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival. Novak, now nearly 80, looked great and seems to have finally caught the brass ring of life -- especially since she turned her back on the Hollywood lifestyle at the pinnacle of her career.

Over 30 years ago, she married an equine veterinarian and moved to rural Oregon. Her life there sounds idyllic and includes a happy marriage, unbridled natural beauty and scores of horses and other animals.

Novak seems extremely content with life and several of her observations caught my attention.

It sounds as though the Hollywood experience was the result of happenstance. During the summer in the early 1950s, Novak and two friends traveled the country to showcase and advertise refrigerators, of all things. Their tour terminated in California and the girls decided to visit a movie studio. During a the studio tour, Kim Novak was hired as an extra to appear in a movie musical. There she was spotted by an agent, got a screen test, etc. Voila. A star was born.

Despite difficulties encountered in movie land, Novak did not appear bitter about what followed. She spoke of how pleasant and full life can be when one is surrounded by positive people whose opinions we appreciate.

Isn't that true? Think of situations that are positive and then some that have been less than positive. These situations could be brief or lengthy, but we've all had some of each type.

Remember being in school? Some years were a lot more enjoyable than others and it was the good years that we recall more easily. School might have been more enjoyable because we were sitting near a friend, we enjoyed the view from the classroom windows or a particular teacher made us feel special. Years later when I became a teacher, I was always aware of the impact that the teacher has. He/she could casually make some off-the-cuff comment that might be remembered by the students for years. If students felt inferior or slighted, that feeling could linger with that child for a lengthy period of time.

We have all had friendships that became uncomfortable. I have worked with adults who had severe personal problems of one type or another, perhaps even marital difficulties. When I would be around those persons, I felt guarded and ill at ease for fear of saying something inappropriate. Such an feeling of constant uneasiness is tiring, to say the least. Despite our best efforts, these situations remain unpleasant until terminated.

My marriage was much the same. I was constantly criticized and chastised. The manner of the dominant male merely reflected the way in which my husband had been raised. The man made all the decisions with no options and no room for negotiation. The result was years of keeping my opinions entirely to myself, squelching my views, interests and outlooks. Fortunately, that marriage ended and we were both free to move on with our lives.

I know people who would rather endure years of misery than to express an unpopular idea or terminate any relationship, whether that relates to spouses, friends, interests or jobs. It takes courage to remain in a situation that is unpleasant, especially if there does not appear to be an end in sight.

It is only natural that we seek out people who make us feel valued. The teacher who realized that we thought differently and acknowledged our opinion remains a valued part of our past. A friend who shares our outlook and exchanges information with enthusiasm is a treasure. A person who seems to like us as much as we should like ourselves is someone we should keep close.

This observation is not complicated. In fact, it's rather simplistic. Unfortunately, many of the basic truths of life are so simple that we tend to overlook them entirely.

We all need to keep in mind that we should seek people who value us as much as we should value ourselves. Then we need to hang on to these people and keep them in our lives.

Everyone can benefit from having a someone special in their corner.







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