Wednesday, 9 November 2011
Pay attention to your life
There was a story in today's paper about a talk Barbara Walters gave to a Jewish fundraising dinner in town last night.
I thought: good for Barbara.
She's 82-years-old and still going strong. She continues to work on a regular basis on two television programs: The View and 20/20. And she continues to be a gadabout in New York, seen at all the swish parties on the arms of some very powerful men.
Oh yes, and she is a grandmother. That's not usually heard in her introductions.
Last night, she told the gathering about a conversation she once had with the late, great Katherine Hepburn.
Asked about her life's accomplishments, Hepburn said this.
"I made enough money to support myself and I wasn't afraid of being alone."
Oh, Lord, I thought. How sad.
Barbara has certainly followed Hepburn's lead.
She has been much married -- and badly, as she admits -- but Barbara has always been an independent soul, supporting her parents and her sister over much of her storied life while always keeping a separate bank account from myriad exes.
She was also a single mother much of that time and she admits that that job was her most difficult.
I've always admired Barbara Walters, but in reading her biography, I couldn't help but feel the loneliness dripping between all the names dropped.
A woman has to ask herself what price she is willing to pay to be on top.
I've known many successful women and I know for a fact that fame and fortune come at a price.
There are always balls dropping in the background.
Men suffer personally at the alter of self-worship. Many of them couldn't tell you the color of the eyes of their own children and miss out on family dinners, but it's not the same, not the same at all.
There is a lot of heartache in a woman's life, but there is a richness that comes with being present in the lives of one's family. I see it on Facebook in the pictures posted by women who do the heavy-lifting in life. They don't get awards from grateful audiences. They don't take trips on their frequent air miles.
They might not have swish jobs or burgeoning bank accounts.
But they reap the rewards in later years, as they look in the eyes of their children and grandchildren and commend themselves on a job well done.
Their children were handraised, not brought up by nannies or their peers.
I'm always reminded of that Harry Chapin song, Cat's in the Cradle.
You can always tell the kids who weren't handraised. They're always too busy to stop by. Always flying to Aspen instead of coming home for Christmas. Too busy to be at the beside when the final time comes.
I always wanted to be Barbara Walters but never quite got there. Life got in the way. Children needed to be raised. No...children had to be heard.
There wasn't enough time or energy, especially in the single mother days, to do two jobs well.
Sometimes, I find myself feeling sorry for my career, but by Sunday, I get over it. No time to feel sorry when you've got Sunday dinner to make.
I'm not saying being a homemaker is the answer.
Not at all.
A woman needs an education and a career.
As my mother would say: never depend on a man.
Men leave, one way or another.
If someone asked me to give a speech to women at a fancy dinner, I would say this.
Be the man you want to marry.
Don't spend anytime with people who make you feel bad about you.
Pay attention to your life.