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Helen Keller once wrote in her famous essay, that “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.” Like most middle-aged married women, Nadine – the main character in “Nadine at 35: A Synopsis” – faces many of the common problems that exist in a family with kids. But it is her pessimism and passive lack of interest that drives these problems and causes them to piral out of control. Her consistent focus on minor irrelevant problems prevents her from seeing what is happening around her family, and from fighting to find a solution. If Nadine were to direct as much attention to her family as she does to her “oozed-out” brain cells, perhaps she would encounter less problems and have a healthier relationship with her husband.
The fact that Nadine repeatedly mentions the on-going loss of her brain cells and vocabulary, whether being an actual physical condition or simply a metaphor for aging, certainly does not help the situation. Her blindness to the real problems that occur around her everyday is the reason for her feeling like she has no control over the fate of her life, which is why she continuously fools herself into tackling the wrong problem. Throughout this short story, Nadine lists several things she has accomplished; such as finding a job, buying a car, and renting a housekeeper. Although these changes are positive and can often be helpful when trying to move on and make a change, she doesn’t seem to mention putting any effort into first figuring out why she is in the place she is in, which obviously is not a very happy one. She is in a race against time, but she forgets to stop for a second to make sure that her shoes are even on right.
Nadine’s love life is clearly not very successful both during and after her husband’s “escape”, but once again, she puts the blame on the wrong things. Her “word loss” and large family are definately not the reason her husband left, and also do not have to stop her from trying to find a new lover instead of resigning to celibacy. Some would say that according to the Law of Attraction, this is bound to happen. She cannot expect to find what she is looking for if she constantly thinks of all the reasons why it cannot happen, it is a fool’s errand. Perhaps a change in her outlook on the world could help her with her feeling of exhaustion and lack of energy, and would stop her from feeling surprised when she feels joy, like when she describes her job.
Buying new objects, getting haircuts and masturbating, are temporary solutions to escape real, life-long problems. They provide a short period of joy instead of first trying to work out what causes the sadness in the first place. Nadine herself admits that “she didn’t even know he was lost” when her husband left. And instead of asking herself “why is this happening?” and “what can I do to change this?”, she proceeds to ramble on about their changing bodies. The way she can escape this vicious cycle, and gain back the control over the important things in her life, would be to ask herself, what is it that she is doing wrong and can change, rather than putting blame on things she cannot control, like time. She needs to realize that constantly reminding herself of the many things she is losing, will only bring forth more feelings of loss rather than feeling of gain, and conversely. Changing your attitudes towards life, changes your relation to time, and what it represents.
As George Clinton of “Funkadelic” once said, “You rise as high as your dominant aspiration, you descend to the level of your lowest concept of your self.” This statement is important to remember, and applies directly to Nadine’s life. The proof lies in her tone and pessimistic style of presenting life. Seeing her basic responsibilities as a mother in such a negative way and not wanting to fight for what is right for her, is the very reason she constantly feels lost and out of control. Having a “what the hell?” attitude towards life does not fix any problems, and is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike. Unless she realizes this and focuses her energy in fixing her actual problems, Nadine will continue straight ahead on this not-so-satisfactory road until she eventually really does run out of time.
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