A stunningly-beautiful woman, she caught the eye of the god Apollo; and it’s always a dangerous thing to catch one of those gods’ eyes.
Apollo, so infatuated was he, bestowed upon Cassandra the gift of prophecy, of foresight. And, then, when Cassandra did not react to Apollo in the way he desired (can you spell S-E-X?), he put a little twist on his gift to her. He cursed the gift so that, although she was unfailingly right in her predictions, she would never be believed.
Her life was not good…
This picture is supposed to be of Cassandra. See how she’s tearing her hair out?
I thought about Cassandra the other day and wondered if the literary figure might be a metaphor for the wisdom of age.
I sat in my office just this week, listening to a very wise older-than-me (which is getting up there) woman speak of her domestic travails. This woman had lived a life that had given her great insight into others and into life, I could tell. Her husband of forty years, however, had seemed to go the opposite direction as he aged. This man of nearly seventy had taken up with a 32 year-old exotic dancer and was acting the fool, big time. Running backwards, as it were.
My client said to me: “ I have learned so much over my years. Why, it took me fifty years to learn that men are so very much different than we women are. I mean, I knew it and was told it, but I was over 50 before I really knew it. I only wish my daughters would listen…”
And that last sentence is what grabbed my attention and made me think of Cassandra.
I am feeling very Cassandraish these days. Mind you, I am paid for others to hear and heed my advice. As a lawyer, advising is my job. But why is it that members of my own family just won’t listen to the advice that others pay dearly to have?
Yes, another literary reference comes to mind: “A prophet has no honor in his own country…”
V, my sister, and I are all struggling with youths in our family (all separate instances) who are treading treacherous paths. Don’t get the wrong idea: we’re not talking about criminals, here, just plain, logical wrong (really wrong) decisions that are sure to make their lives much, much harder than they have to be. From the vantage point of our age, we can so see disaster looming around the bend in each instance. These youths are screwing up—there is not one doubt about it.
My little group of support (my five BFFs) met last week. Besides V and me, there are two of that group whose children just will not listen. I’m not talking about idle style choices, here; I’m talking about things that will impact these “kids” (not) for a long time and, in one case in particular, for the rest of her life.
So, what is it about we Cassandras of a certain age that preclude youth from believing anything we have to say? Is it just that they must learn on their own?
I am re-reading one of my favorite books, Out of Africa, my go-to soothing literature. In it I find that the Somali women of the 1920’s were not like us. Their young women hungered to sit at the knees of their elders to learn of life and, yes, womanly arts. They saw the opportunity afforded them by their elders’ teaching as privilege, and they revered the examples and lessons given.
What is it about our society that we have lost the art of passing down/accepting wisdom of our elders? I have bemoaned this trait before in another post. It is as if Apollo had fixed us up to be Cassandras—blessing us with great gifts, but plugging up the ears of our youth to the lessons we have learned the hard way.
Yes, I guess they just have to learn them, too—in their own way.
Sheesh! I sound just like Mama… C