Friday, May 31, 2013

Middle age: One Woman's Search for 6-pack Abs (or just a 6-pack)

"Bored with the day to day monotony of life? Take inspiration from Roz Savage, the first woman ever to row solo across three oceans, and put adventure at the centre of your life."

That is from an article in the Sydney Morning Herald that a friend recently posted on Facebook. It's about Roz Savage and her new book to be published later this year, Stop Drifting, Start Rowing: One Woman's Search for Happiness and Meaning Alone on the Pacific. The article can be found at

To answer to the above question, yes. Yes, I am bored with the day to day monotony of life. Yes, I strive every day to find happiness and meaning. Yes, I do stare off into space frequently, wondering if this is all there is to life. (Such existential pondering is usually answered by an imaginary James Earl Jones-like voice telling me "Yes, in fact, this IS all there is to life. Suck it up."). Whereas my twenties were spent pining away for a romantic partner, the security of a lifelong companion, a child, a house, admittedly, yes, I do lie awake some nights wondering if this is everything I want. (BTW, it appears I also want a lot of chocolate chip cookies plus higher metabolism.)

It's possible I could take inspiration from Ms. Savage without actually rowing solo across three oceans. I suppose if I were to get really creative I could technically put adventure at the center of my life without having to abandon my child and family and all of my responsibilities and obligations. I read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert when it first came out and I was sort of inspired by her story even despite feeling mildly annoyed at times that my, my, my, aren't we just so lucky to have the resources and opportunity to just go off to Italy, India and Indonesia for a whole year. I guess it probably comes through in my tone that I am actually a little more cynical than inspired.

I mean, sure, there is no doubt about it, rowing solo across three oceans is a pretty bad-ass thing to do. It is even more bad-ass and appealing because Ms. Savage is an attractive blonde who looks great in a bikini. But I can't row anywhere solo, except maybe in a canoe across the local Minneapolis lakes. Is this adventurous enough? I highly doubt it. And while I could ditch my kid for a period of months, hopefully without leaving her permanently scarred, it would be tremendously selfish of me to put my life at risk all by my lonesome in the middle of the ocean. Or three. Because while I like the idea of a little more separation from my child, I truly don't want her to end up motherless. So I kind of frown upon the type of adventure that entails such big risks.

What I'm really getting at without trying to sink too far into negative bitchiness is where is the adventure for the urban housewives and stay-at-home moms? Who is writing Eat, Pray, Love For the Homebody? Because while I am sometimes jealous of the 20- and 30-something women out there with no kids who get to follow their dreams and go live a life of adventure, I also don't think it's so hugely inspiring that they left their "perfect" lives of marriage and cushy incomes. How is that so courageous? Do you want to know what takes courage? Raising kids. That shit is rough even when it is mind-numbingly boring. Moms want adventure, too! We just want adventure unaccompanied by a visit from Child Protection and watching our kids end up in foster care. Plus, although there are many moms in bikinis around my suburb, childbirth and child-rearing is not always conducive to tight abs. It's just not. In my opinion, if you're not genetically programmed for a flat stomach, you're screwed after about age 30. But that's not necessarily a requirement for a life of adventure. It's merely a nice perk.

So I guess the bottom line is, I don't really want six-pack abs or even a whole six-pack of beer (2 or 3 is fine). And I don't want to row a boat across the ocean or spend a year in Italy. Well, maybe a year in Italy wouldn't be all bad. I like pasta. What I would like is to be inspired by women who are happy, content, spiritually satisfied but who also lead kind of mundane, boring lives. I want them to complain a lot sometimes and swear when they feel frustrated. And then, after I read about these women, I want to have lunch with them. And then, after lunch, I want to be that woman. But I might have to bring my kid along. Is that really so much to ask?

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