Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Saturday, July 16, 2011

C: Cassandra Speaks…and Speaks…and Speaks…

cassandra Hearken back to your Greek-mythology/literature-study days.  Do you recall Cassandra?  She was the daughter of King Priam and his Queen Hecuba of Troy (Remember?  Iliad??)

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 advice(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. 

advice cartoon 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


Anonymous said...

This was a fabulous post. At last someone says the things I think and worry about. I have a Daughter over 50 and want to warn her about things that might be lurking at the end of the road. Alass,
I have learned not to give advice. They don't want it.
I want to put you on my post.

ain't for city gals said...

Ah yes..if only we knew then what we knew now!

Vee said...

Each generation repeats mistakes that could have been avoided. Thus it has ever been.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Yes, it's as if the curse on Cassandra has been passed on to all womenkind--I'm speaking for our own culture of course. Asian cultures also seem to revere the advice of their elders--at least this is what I've heard. Where are we going wrong? I think "indulgence" is a part of it--perhaps it breeds contempt. Of course my own mother grew up poor as a church mouse, but had a rebellious spirit and thought her own mother was so old fashioned and out of it. Maybe it's from being the baby of the family to an older mom. Really, I think about this a lot! Yes, I'm "overthinking"!
"We learn from our mistakes", we're told. There is truth there, but not everyone seems to --I think that is what a "fool" is.

Jody Blue said...

You are singin' my song sister! I struggle with the young adults that want new bright and shiney right here right now. It all comes with a price and its hard when yo know its not worth what is being paid. Oi vey!

Kat_RN said...

This post sure hits close to home! Why of why do our children have to put themselves through so much pain by doing things the hard way?

KathyB. said...

I hear you, and I agree. What's a Cassandra to do when she won't be listened to? Prayer is the only positive thing to do but I confess I have been known to nag and say " I told you so!".

Hilary said...

Ay yi yi........I love this post....I was just thinking this morning, the very same thing.
How crazy it is that my three daughters don't learn from my mistakes, and why they INSIST on making their own.

texwisgirl said...

once again, makes me grateful i never had children. as the youngest of 8, i watched my mother spend every last day worrying about each and every one of us...

Vickie said...

I love that book, too...

Those Somali women didn't have TV, music and movies screwing their brains up and making them thinking that the world's way is better. It's all a BIG FAT LIE. They need to listen to the wisdom of the ages - but they won't realize it til they are our age...

And then again, some young folks just have to learn the hard way...

Vickie said...

Oh the reason I came by was to thank you for your encouragement on behalf of my friend who lost her daughter Kayla. I'm passing all these sweet comments on to my friend Helen. I know she'll appreciate each and every one!!!

Debbie said...

I, by default, am joining your Cassandra Club. Put my name on your list. Are there any dues?

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