In the weeks leading up to this year’s midterm election, I served as a support volunteer for one of the many organizations that focus on getting out the vote on Election Day. Our callers were calling registered voters who hadn’t voted in the last midterm — 2010 — to encourage them to vote.
My job was to fix problems from those volunteer callers (calling from home through the use of a whiz bang new computer program). When one had a problem, he or she was directed to send an email or call a phone number. Either way, they often got me.
It was not a difficult job, as volunteer jobs go. The organization was particularly well organized. They offered a list of recommended answers I could pull from: a simple copy and paste, personalize the response, and send it off if an email. And a similar set up with the phone calls.
Of the many templates, I particularly liked one entitled, “Can I deviate from the script?” It was written, as most were, in response to a caller who had asked this exact question.
“Can I deviate from the script?”
How often in my life, have I wanted to “deviate from the script” of my life?
In a word: many.
Early on, as children do, I followed the script that was given me in blind obedience. As I grew older I continued to follow the same one, rigidly even, certainly without thinking.
I grew up in the 1950s when a woman’s place was “in the home.” Here’s a paragraph from a Singer Sewing Machine manual from 1949, just a year after I was born.
It’s hard to read, I know. Here’s what it says:
Prepare yourself mentally for sewing. Thing about what you are going to do… Never approach sewing with a sigh or lackadaisically. Good results are difficult when indifference predominates.
Never try to sew with a sink full of dirty dishes or beds unmade. When there are urgent housekeeping chores, do those first so your mind is free to enjoy your sewing. When you sew, make yourself as attractive as possible. Put on a clean dress. Keep a little bag full of French chalk near your sewing machine to dust your fingers at intervals. Have your hair in order, powder and lipstick put on. If you are constantly fearful that a visitor will drop in or your husband will come home, and you will not look neatly put together, you will not enjoy your sewing. Tater Patch Quilts Merrill, Oregon
Really. That’s what it says.
I remember when this would not have been considered outrageous.
Of course, different scripts appear at different times of life.
There was the script of being the good girl. That was followed by the script of being the good wife, the good mother, the good citizen. “Good.”
And, I remember when I tried out “Bad.” Now there’s a story worth sharing. Someday I shall.
As I remember the many life stages I’ve had, I’m aware that the older I get, the more I claim that the script I’m using is mine. I loudly proclaim, for all to hear, “I wrote this one. Finally.”
Then, I stop and realize that, much as I’d like to have penned the script that guides my life today, I probably didn’t. That one, like all the others before it, was written by a world larger than I can see, a culture with a powerful pull on me, and an evolutionary link that makes being accepted, fitting in, mandatory for my mental health.
Here’s one of those funny posters that float around Facebook from time to time.
So, as I bring this “deviating from the script” post to a close, I’ll end with this one:
HOW about you? What are the scripts that govern your life? Who wrote them? Your family? Your culture? Your church? Your neighborhood? The law? Your children? Your spouse? Your former spouse?
Are you waiting for permission before deviating from them? Or, do you like your script just fine, and it doesn’t matter to you who wrote it?
I’d love to hear your story.
Interested in reading At Home on the Kazakh Steppe? I hope so.
Amazon makes it easy. Or, you can order it from your local independent bookstore.
And, if you have read it, leaving a review on Amazon will help bring me closer to being able to offer a weekend with a discounted price. (just in time for you to fill your family’s Christmas stockings) 🙂