Thursday, January 26, 2017
Looks Like You're Gonna Make It After All
As I was eating dinner tonight, a special about Mary Tyler Moore came on. Not sure how it happened, but all of a sudden I found myself crying. Then an image of Carrie Fisher pops into my head and I cried some more. I paused to think about the legacy of both of these women and you guessed it, I cried a bit more.
I was five when I first met Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia on the silver screen. In fact, Star Wars was my first movie I saw in the theater and I loved it! I'm not sure why I connected with it, but to this day it remains one of my favorite movies. Yes, Leia was "sass underpinned by pure steel" but what did that really mean to a little girl from the 'burbs? Over the years, Carrie proved to be an honest, open person who faced her struggles head on. And the characters she played were just as tough and just as funny. Remember Marie from When Harry Met Sally?
I'm fairly certain my memories of The Mary Tyler Moore Show are all from reruns. It aired on Saturday nights, from 1970-1977, so I can say with certain confidence I wasn't watching it then. Even when I watched it in reruns, I was still a kid, so how much did I really get and understand?
As I watched Princess Leia and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I didn't have all these grand thoughts of what I could do with my life or the things I wanted to accomplish. I don't know that I can pinpoint any monumental decision in my life to either of these icons. So why the tears? As I've read about both of these women and watched specials on their lives, I've had a realization. How often are we living in a moment, not truly understanding the impact it has (or will have) on our lives? How often have we read a book, watched a movie, or had a conversation that leads us down a certain path without us realizing it? Perhaps there has been so much change and progress since that particular moment in time, but because we live through it (sometimes easily), that we don't understand the true impact of a person or event until years later. Sometimes there are so many little forces that by themselves don't make a difference, but collectively, they have the power to influence a generation. Or what is happening behind the scenes that we don't see that has such an impact? Watching this special, there was a reference to the number of female writers on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. One third of the writers were female, unprecedented for a sitcom at the time. It was important to Mary, because the show was about a strong, single successful woman - how meaningful would a man's contribution be to this script? One of the major influences these women writers had? Making sure Mary and Lou did not end up together, which confirmed the crazy thought that you could be a single successful female without having to depend on a man for happiness.
Then I think about a specific part of Hillary Clinton's concession speech -
"and to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams."
How powerful is that message? Whether you voted for her or not, the message that her candidacy and these 35 words sent was impactful to people all over the globe, especially young girls.
Some final thoughts . . .
While Mary Richards was a feminist, Mary Tyler Moore often said she didn't consider herself one. Carrie Fisher, most definitely a feminist, was able to turn her infamous bikini costume into a point of pride. (Read this article if you're a bit intrigued.) I don't know if they would agree with me or not, but I feel like both of these women, and even the characters they portrayed, left behind a legacy we may not know the full extent of at this point. Maya Angelou once told Oprah Winfrey,
"You have no idea what your legacy will be. Your legacy is what you do everyday. Your legacy is every life you’ve touched, every person whose life was either moved or not. It’s every person you’ve harmed or helped, that’s your legacy.’ I don’t think about it. I just try to live it."
My question to you is, what do you do everyday to impact a life? And can you impact the people around you for the good? How will you be remembered?