Friday, January 19, 2007

"Everything I knew to be true about myself up until then was gone. I was acting like another woman, yet I was more myself than ever before"

The title is quoted from Meryl Streep in the movie "The Bridges of Madison County".
"The Bridges of Madison County" is a movie directed by Clint Eastwood and starring him and Meryl Streep. This movie is one of the most romantic and teary movies I've ever seen. We as Muslims will not approve the movie plot one bit, but the movie is filled with so much tenderness and desperate feelings it's worth watching anyway. There is one scene in the movie that made me stop for a long pause and think deeply. But I'll briefly outline the plot for those who did not see the movie. The movie is about a woman married to a farmer and has two kids. Her husband and kids go to a town event and leave her alone. Comes a professional National Geographic photographer asking for the Madison County bridges so he can photograph them for the magazine. She offers him refreshments and a guidance to the bridges, and in the time of four days they fall in love so strongly that she actually packs her bags to leave her husband. On second thoughts, she doesn't do it, saying the phrase in the scene that made me think so hard about what a woman feels when she gets married. I quote her:
"When a woman makes the choice to marry, to have children; in one way her life begins but in another way it stops. You build a life of details. You become a mother, a wife and you stop and stay steady so that your children can move. And when they leave they take your life of details with them. And then you're expected to move again only you don't remember what moves you because no-one has asked in so long. Not even yourself"
This, to me, is a killer phrase. It about sums up what every dedicated wife and mother feels without being able to put the feeling into words. This life of details does not include a woman's own dreams and ambitions, and she's left with one of three choices: live for herself, live for her family, or try to take a piece of both. But that's it, she'll have only a piece of each, not the whole package. The woman decides after all that if she leaves, she'll eventually end up hating the mans she loved and losing her family. So she stays and lets him go, telling him that it is better to have her family and her four days of a love that comes only once in a life time that to lose her family and her love in the process.
That phrase she said about a woman's choice was so moving to me that I had to quote it and memorize its meaning. You see, a man never has to make such a choice because a man's priority is always his job, his ambition, his dreams. No one asks him to give that up for the sake of family. In fact, he's driven even more to pursue his career when he has family. A woman on the other hand, is asked to choose. No one can say that most women would be happy to dedicate their lives to their families. But no one should ask the woman to stop dreaming for herself because there are other more important people to consider. Why is it always that a woman comes last in the welfare of a family. A woman enjoys sacrificing her own welfare for her family, but wouldn't it be nice to have someone else in the family put her as number one? The responsibility of making the marriage work is on the woman, the responsibility of taking good care of the kids is on the woman. Who's taking care of the woman? Not in the sense of food and clothing, but in the sense of feelings and hopes. For a woman to do a good job with her family and not lose herself in the process, she needs a man, and later her grown kids, to say: "I'm listening to you, I know how much you gave up to do this, and there's nothing in the world that's more important that your happiness."
I don't know if I'm making any sense, but this movie has made me think a lot about a lot of marriages I see around me. I know for sure that women are beginning to wonder: Is it enough? Shouldn't I be doing something more for myself? Shouldn't they be doing something more for me?

What do you think?

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