Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 915 – Day 920)
Recently I overheard two people talking about a third man who was in the throes of unrequited love. They described it as full-on “Duckie love.”
Anyone of a certain age will be taken back to the unforgettable character Duckie, played by John Cryer in Pretty in Pink. He became not only a gay icon, but also the epitome of unrequited love. Sensitive, devoted, and expressive, Duckie was the poster boy for the ‘outsider.’
The film came out long after I left high school but, as with all John Hughes films, like most of my generation, I could relate to it. I was never Duckie in highschool. As much as I wanted to punch her in her pouty lips (projection, much?) I always identified with the Molly Ringwald character, Andie. Although I wasn’t poor like Andie, I was always the pretty girl who had boys in love with her. When I changed high schools in my graduating year, I was with a lot of much richer kids and I got a taste of the despicable snobbery of James Spader’s character, Steff, who really did think in terms of social class, at the age of 18. Like Steff did with Andie, a young and popular rich kid on the rugby team took a fancy to me and made advances at me at a party. When I rejected him, I became the outcast of the school. I guess my initiation as Andie was complete.
My mother, too, had been a young beauty. She came from a group of people that are ridiculed in Canada, despite being admired by strangers the world over. She, too, knew what it was like to suffer prejudice because of her background. But she met and married a young man, and as time went on, his career took him to fancier and fancier places and she never really felt comfortable there. Her beauty faded, as it will, with time, and she was insecure. She learned the hard way what we all learn about our society – for women, our power is greatest when we are young and beautiful. As we age, it fades and men gain in power through accomplishment, status and wealth.
I’d like to say that isn’t the case, and I have always been a feminist. But all we need to do is look at the US elections to recognize just how far we really have come, as a society in accepting women – especially older women – and condoning their right to power. And yet, we must not let society dictate our roles.
Duckie was an original, (the character Watts, from Some Kind of Wonderful, was the female version of his archetype). He didn’t do things the way society told him to do them, and I guess this is what makes him the iconic character he is today.
I wish I’d had more Duckie moments when I was young, to build character and to prepare me for life as an older woman. I didn’t. I’ve had to learn the hard way, too. We all know that feeling of being in a relationship where we love harder and more fully than the object of our affection. It can be devastating, if we let it be.
I’ve had my heart broken and I’m grateful not for the pain, but for the resilience I have developed (even as an older woman) as a result of it. Many people have their heart broken once and never love again. I’ve had it broken twice. And again, while not grateful for that pain, I am grateful for the time that preceded it and the time when I was loved.
I’m not really sure I want to put myself in the position of even one more unrequited love in this lifetime.
I wonder who Duckie would be, today. Would he have loved again? Would he have found someone who loved him in return? Or, would he rent a penthouse flat and become a recluse? Would Duckie have learned to recognize true love and tell it apart from those times when he was being played? I hope he would have continued to grow and recognized that he deserved someone who was ready to stand up and love him, wholeheartedly and without reservation.
I’d like that for myself as well, and I still believe it is possible for me. I am grateful for the ability both to keep my heart open and to discern between the fear of being hurt and the uneasy inner knowing when something isn’t right with a love relationship.
It was a joy to be reminded of the character, Duckie. I am learning to embrace and to love my inner Duckie. While his broken heart hurt, Duckie triumphed and maintained his integrity. He was the only real winner in the whole movie, despite losing the girl. He won, because he grew as a human. When I think about him now, I feel a tender Oneness and communion with the character’s vulnerable young heart and soul. Yes, Andie got the rich kid boy in the end, but we all know they probably didn’t stay together and she was probably left devastated. But Duckie loved, he lost and he recovered. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be Duckie than any other character in that film.
And so, as we head into the most romantic season of the year, my service today is to remind us all that the only real way to guarantee the outcome of the game is to leave the field of play. We are all human and we all want to be the first to bail in a relationship, before they bail on us. To paraphrase John Hughes…we all do just want to let them know that they didn’t break us…
But love is always a risk; Once in a while, the risk may turn out to be worth it. The odds really are not in our favour. Unless we are game theory experts, the best we can do is to summon our inner Duckie, have courage, self esteem, and an open heart as we keep doing our own internal calculus, moment by moment. We all deserve someone who will love us wholeheartedly and without reservation.