“Having It All” Is Actually Possible — Just Adjust Your Definition

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The way I read newspaper and print magazine features and opinion pieces is a tad backwards. I start, like most people, with the hed and dek then launch right into the story. If I get to second graph or so and find myself rereading a phrase or sentence because it’s just excellent, that’s when I glance up to see the byline. That’s the “tad backwards” part.

Now, if nothing grabs me in the whole thing, I’ll check to see who wrote it when I get to the very end — if only  to put a mental red x by their names along with a trigger word like SNOOZY or HACK-ATTACK. (I’m kidding … mostly.)

Sometimes I’ll go a step more if I read a really well-written essay or feature story (don’t know why, outside of weirdo tendencies, that this only happens with print pieces and not online), and I’ll Google the writer. Read a bit about their other work and bio.

That’s exactly what happened this morning when I was reading in bed — on my day to sleep in, of course. I know. Come on, Blades! You’re ruining it for all of us. — and I caught a great essay by Delia Ephron in The NYTimes. Yes, Delia, Nora Ephron’s also talented sister.

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The opinion piece, “You Can’t Have It All, but You Can Have Cake,” starts out as an ode to bake goods. So, naturally, I’m in. A bio side note on Blades: Give me a perfectly buttered piece of wheat toast. Give me a flaked-out, airy pastry. Give me a straight-no-chaser cup of peppermint tea. And you will leave me a delighted, joyful human being. Anyway, Ephron’s essay moves fluently from bread talk with an accent on delicious to addressing this prickly notion that continues to buzz around our collective ears: Women Having it All. But Ephron, with all her wit and smarts, essentially asks you to reexamine your definition of “having it all.” Her breakdown of its meaning is brilliant:

“[H]aving it all — if one wants to define it at all — is the magical time when what you want and what you have match up. 

“It might be a fleeting moment — drinking a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning when the light is especially bright. It might also be a few undisturbed hours with a novel I’m in love with, a three-hour lunch with my best friend, reading “Goodnight Moon” to a child, watching a Nadal-Federer match. It can be eating in bed when you’re living on your own for the first time or the first weeks of a new job when everything is new, uncertain and a bit scary. It’s when all your senses are engaged. It’s when you feel at peace with someone you love. And that isn’t often. … Having it all are moments in life when you suspend judgment. It’s when I attain that elusive thing called peace of mind.” 

I nodded after reading and re-reading that graph. Nodded and nodded some more, so hard that I got right up out of bed, walked quickly to my office, popped open the MacBook, and wrote this post. That section of her essay along with the bread love at the top also left me believing that Delia Ephron and I should probably be friends. Just go ahead and make it official, right?

Having it all is not possible … unless you fine-tune your definition, adjust what it means for you, specifically, instead of failing to absorb what Time magazine tells you it should mean. Also, eating more pastry. Having it all means eating more hot, delectable, fluffy pastry. Clearly.

[Think I feel a vlog post coming on. Stay tuned!]

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