She started a blaze from one tiny spark
I didn't even detect
She loved the light, was dismayed by the dark
The stars, though, she seemed to respect
Anastasio / Marshall -- Pebbles and Marbles -- 2002
The power went out in SD a little while ago, apparently county-wide. With a bit of foresight I could have a functional database on my laptop and still be working on my current project, even in the dark, at least until my laptop battery runs down. But, being the gambler that I am, I didn't ever anticipate an extended power outage, so I find myself somewhat lacking in terms of complete occupational self sufficiency. Instead, as the UPS's beep away around me, now seems like the perfect opportunity for a late afternoon blog.
Power, watts, energy. What a great topic, what inspiring words. I feel the immense power of nature when I am in the ocean and when I am in the mountains. This world is so much bigger than I am, the differences of scale are staggering and difficult to comprehend. But power comes in all sorts of flavors. And while I find most of them fascinating, I'm not heading for a shotgun approach to this blog. Instead, allow me to take out the sniper rifle and aim squarely at one specific definition of power.
What exactly is it about women that brings us men (if we are allowed to call ourselves men) to our knees? What makes some women captivating to some of us while others are not? How are some women so strong when they don't swear or shout? Why is it that the strongest of men are so frequently conquered by the softest of women? And why does it seem that we men make so many questionable decisions when we are engaged by the opposite sex in some form of heartbreak warfare? We are supposed to be the rational ones, right? And yet there is a constant desire for the irrational moments in all of us, one which we either choose to act on and periodically ridicule ourselves, or which we squelch and hide in our darkest corners such that we don't become distracted or confused from our goals of conquering.
I'm not sure I can really explain it. But I'll start with a few likes and dislikes and see where I end up.
I am attracted to powerful women. That much is clear. And yet, I'm also turned off by a number of things that powerful women tend to like and do, which makes for an interesting dilemma and much disillusionment. While I'm obviously not representative of the collective male consciousness in any way, and while I actually consider myself a total outlier when it comes to preferences about women, I feel like I'm allowed to self indulge a bit given that this is, after all, my own blog.
I hate fake boobs. Hate them. With a passion. That doesn't mean I hate anyone who has fake boobs, as it's most definitely a correctable offense. And I do see the merit in reconstructive surgery for victims of breast cancer, bot those aren't the fake boobs I'm speaking of. The recent trend of every 15 year old getting fakies for her birthday makes me nauseous. I do realize that bigger boobs == more guy attention == more confidence. And I am definitely attracted to confidence when it is genuine and not a mask for insecurity. But it just annoys me to take shortcuts by adding to your curves. I tend to have the opposite reaction to fake boobs, they act as a beacon of insecurity and lack of self respect. Why can't we admire our bodies the way they are, they way they have evolved, the way they were meant to be? Why do we think we know better? It's audacious to supplant silicone or saline purely to enhance our form. So, I applaude women who have managed to sit this trend out. I applaud anyone who finds happiness in the positives of their body without dwelling on the negatives. I know there are things I dislike about my own shell, but every time I hit a new yoga pose just a bit more than I ever have before, I gain additional appreciation for the strength and flexibility I do have, no matter how insignificant they might seem in comparison to anyone else's.
I hate makeup. Granted I realize it has a place. Photographs, particularly wedding photographs, tend to look better with some makeup. It brightens and it accentuates. So, I only kind-of hate makeup, I don't hate it with a passion. I wish it were controlled a bit more. I wish it were less prevalent. I think there is a decent trend away from overuse of makeup and that I do like. We boys, we don't get to cover up our blemishes, or if we do, you better believe our bros will roast us for it. So, yes, some powerful women tend to cling to makeup, but for me, it's a turn-off. Be strong without the mask and I'll admire you, but lean on that crutch too much and one day it'll snap.
Initiative is a gigantic turn on for me. I love women who take the bull by the horns and go for it, even if they don't fully understand exactly what they are doing. We are all so sheltered these days, so restricted, so controlled, that I find myself constantly thinking "is this going to upset anyone" before taking action. A little bit more of the wild wild west might be a good thing for many of us. How does this manifest? Well, when it comes to dating, or even just interacting, I have tremendous respect for a woman who can do her part to keep the ball rolling. Contribute to the conversation instead of sitting back and waiting to be spoon-fed questions. Take part in the scheduling. I I understand nervousness, heck, we men deal with it all the time. But you don't gain points by keeping your thoughts to yourself, you just wind up wasting time by your omissions and reservations. Powerful women are willing, able, and confident to express their opinions. That doesn't mean you have to shove those thoughts or beliefs down anyone's throat. But powerful women have beliefs, they have thoughts, and any man worth his salt wants to hear them. Contribute. Be present. And we men will fall at your feet and worship you.
Cleanliness is a very interesting topic for me, having shared time with many extremely neat people and also with a few who have less interest in obsessive organization. I do believe that powerful women are not disorganized. I'm a rare bird who notices not only who does the dishes every time I'm at a dinner party, but also how they wash said dishes. There are so many subtle clues to pick up on the first time you enter someone else's living space. I remember how my sister used to clean up her room by shoving all the clothes and books that were on the floor into her closet and closing the door. That type of behavior is visible in many ways, covering up the obvious mess doesn't hide anything to the intrepid observer. I'm happy to report that my sister no longer takes these shortcuts, with 3 toddlers she doesn't have that option anymore :) Regardless, this seems one of the easiest things for all of us to work on, something we can make incremental progress with every time we try. I'm a firm believer that the more organized, and put-away that we are, the easier and smoother our lives become. However, I also see the slippery slope of obsessive compulsion and I realize there are times when everything is "good enough". I've even been able to leave a suitcase unpacked or the laundry un-folded for 24 hours or more a few times this summer, a rare accomplishment that I'm quite proud of.
Toughness might be the hallmark for me. If there's one recurring theme among the women I am most amazed by, both friends and more-than-friends, it's a degree of toughness that rises above the average. Some men really like a dependent woman who will throw up her hands and ask for help, but I can't help but gaze in wonder at women who don't need help. Sure, we are all weak, we will all die, and we'd all (well, most of us at least) like to be comforted when our time comes to depart this existence. But in the meantime, how about a little bit of toughness to inspire those around you? I know there are times when I'm tired and sore and don't want to bust out another workout, but usually I suck it up. There are races where I stand at the start line and wonder where I'm going to muster up the the will to perform at a respectable level. Toughness is all about conquering that doubt and rising from your own ashes every chance you get and enjoying that inner turmoil. Toughness is a lot like double-or-nothing betting, each time you win you feel only marginally satisfied, but one loss can easily take you back to zero.
The corollary to toughness is humility, and to have both is rare indeed. Humility because life isn't all about us, and sometimes the others in our lives need a hand held or a shoulder to lean on. Humility is one of the easiest qualities to find in women, but in powerful women it can be a little bit more elusive. Knowing when to wear the leader hat and when to wear the follower hat is the most delicate seesaw dance we do. To be an effective leader is to demonstrate your power, to be an effective follower is to manifest and internalize your power. From an alternative perspective, nothing is a bigger turn off for an otherwise powerful woman than a lack of humility. Think of Demi Moore's character in Indecent Proposal for an example of power without humility turns sour.
It's interesting to note that I didn't mention sensitivity, empathy, kindness, manners, or cheerfulness. I do like all of those attributes, but I think they relate more to the scale of awesomeness than the scale of powerful.
Hmm, this turned into a rant/rave about women more than a discussion of power, didn't it? Perhaps I should yin my yang a bit and talk about what I like and dislike about my guy friends next...