Everyone has read about (and, unless you’re me, is probably tired of reading about) whether or not women can “have it all.” But in yesterday’s NY Times Opinion section, author Delia Ephron wrote an interesting piece about what it means for different people at different times, to want or have it all.
“I’m sure when Anthony Weiner found out he couldn’t have it all, he changed the definition. “Having it all” meant having his pregnant wife not leave him. “That’s all I want,” I bet he said to himself when he was exposed and had to resign. “Just don’t let Huma leave me.” In other words, “all” shrank. However, once he persuaded his wife not to leave him, he wasn’t satisfied. “All” expanded once again.
Having it all seems to breed wanting more. And since we can’t have it all because it is statistically impossible, and since there is no such thing as more than all, the whole notion seems, I’m sorry to say, depressingly American… In many countries, having it all is learning to read. Having it all is getting to choose whom you love. Having it all is walking to school without worrying that you might get raped on the way.”
I’m not a superstitious person, yet when I am going about my day and happen to glance at the clock just as it turns 11:11, I sometimes find myself holding my breath and making a wish. “If only I could have one thing right now, I wish…” A year ago, I wished to get into grad school. Last week, it was to pass my placement exams. Tonight, I just wanted my neighbors to quiet down so I could get some sleep (sad to say, it’s now 2am and their party still seems to be going strong…) I realize that every time I wish, I am redefining what “all” means to me. I would be happy (if for a moment), if only I could just achieve this one more thing. Never have I ever found myself wishing for a successful career, or a family and children.
Which is another point that Ephron makes is that even when we do “have it all,” the feeling is often short-lived. She compares it to an eclipse, “To me, having it all — if one wants to define it at all — is the magical time when what you want and what you have match up. Like an eclipse … it’s rare. This eclipse never lasts more than seven minutes and 31 seconds.”