Tag Archives: life

The Tao of Peggy Olson

With AMC’s Mad Men having recently poured its final glass of 9am bourbon, neat, I am left with a moment to reflect on the show whose legacy was always a little bit grander than its reality. And really, isn’t that sort of what we’re all aiming for in life? You’ll see a hundred op/ed pieces on the technical hits or misses of the show, but for me, even though the show was centered around Don Draper, the true protagonist of the series was Peggy Olson. Don’s was a journey that was focused on discovery on self (and probably more than a couple of STDs as well), but Peggy’s was a true battle. A David vs. Goliath struggle where sometimes her Goliath was the ultra-misogynistic corporate workplace of the 1960s and /70s, and sometimes her Goliath was herself. With that in mind, I present a handful of moments that Peggy brought us that will stick with me much longer than Don’s loose views on fidelity and identity theft. And so I present to you:

THE TAO OF PEGGY OLSON

“When I was little, my mom would take a twin pop and break it in half and give one to me and one to my sister. We were completely equal in her eyes. Beloved. Everyone does this with Popsicles, but they may not realize what it means. It has nothing to do with an ice cream truck on a hot summer day. Or the flavor. Or the color. It’s a ritual. You take it, break it, share it, and love it.” —Season 2, Episode 12
• A central theme for Peggy throughout the Mad Men series was that of love. Not just romantic love, but familial love, love in friendship, love in a professional environment, and love of self (or at least learning to accept yourself for who you are). This mini monologue (minilogue?) is a great example of Peggy romanticizing her own past (to a fault, at times) for the sake of remembering the good and the love that surrounded her, rather than focusing on the negative aspects of life. Classic Peggy.

“Every time something good happens, something bad happens.”  —s4,e11
• Peggy’s strength as a character (and as a person) isn’t that she’s blindly naive and ignorantly optimistic, it’s that she sees the world for the crappy, run down mess that it is…but chooses to hope anyway. Anyone can live a sheltered life and think the world a perfectly pleasant place, the real challenge is to continue to seek after your ideals in spite of adversity. If Peggy was a pro boxer, she wouldn’t be a one-punch wonder, she’d be the sort of marathon fighter who wears you out by taking hit after hit for twelve rounds and staying on her feet till the final bell. And in life you’re going to have a lot more knockdown, drag-out fights to endure than quick, Muhammad Ali-esque 15-second KO’s. Be built for the full twelve.

“Well, I’m fun! And I love to have…fun.” —s3,e4
• For the pitch perfect pitchman she became (pitchwoman? Pitchperson?), Peggy was always a little too humble to really sell herself, and we see that here in her awkward attempt to sound…well, fun, on a first date. Even though she struggles to really sell herself for the great gal she is in this particular instance, she manages to get to the heart of “free time Peggy,” which is that even though her work/life balance might have been a little uneven at times, at her core she’s still just a girl who wants to have fun, and be fun to be around to others. Despite how intense her career focus could be at times, you still get the idea that she found fun in her work, and wanted others to find the fun in theirs as well (as long as it didn’t compromise the quality of the final product). Remember kids: Be fun, have fun. It’s what Peggy would want.

“Don Draper: That’s how this works. I pay you for ideas.
Peggy Olson: You never say ‘Thank you.’
Don Draper: That’s what the money is for!” —s4,e7
• Despite her eventual rise to the top creative ranks in the ad agency world, Peggy was never in it for the money or the power or even the acclaim…she was in it for the respect that she knew she deserved and the recognition of her talent in a world that tried repeatedly to write her off. A recurring theme throughout the series is Peggy working out her daddy issues through Don (sometimes effectively, sometimes not), and ultimately having the revelation that we all need to have: someone else’s approval is never going to replace or validate our own self worth. I know a lot of us feel under-appreciated and even unloved in our professional and/or personal lives, but the moral of the story is that it’s up to us to know that we have value, rather than waiting for the accolades of the outside world that may or may not ever arrive. Easier said than done, perhaps, but worth the effort nonetheless.

“Don’t do anything stupid.” —s6,e5
• At the end of the day (one of my all-time most hated clichés, but gets the point across), we almost always know the right thing we should say or do or not do in a given situation, but the real test of mettle is whether or not we can act on that knowledge, to resist the easy path in favor of the more difficult one, even if it’s less rewarding or we won’t get any recognition for doing so. How many times in your life have you looked back on something you regret and thought, “Geez, that was stupid…I knew better”? And you’re right, you did! The difficulty lies in having the willpower to not do the stupid thing in front of you, no matter how appealing it might be in the moment. A daily battle for most of us (or at least me), but a battle worth fighting, even if the victories are more infrequent than the failures. But just know that in spite of your past mistakes, you have ability to make the right choice the next time. And the next time. And the time after that. I’m pulling for you. And so is Peggy Olson. I’ll even buy you a shot of bourbon when you get there. Good luck and God bless.
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Play on,
Dustin

…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every other Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox! …Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagramyoutube (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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How DO You Deal with Sadness?

On the tumblr account I recently created (if you need me I’ll be over here, keeping up with ALL the hottest trends of 2007), someone asked the anonymous question:

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“How do you deal with sadness?”

Most tumblr questions I answer only insofar as they are interesting to me and/or present the opportunity to be funny via amusing myself and occasionally others (and so the circle of narcissism comes full…well, circle (I was in trouble like four words into that one)).

However, the above question struck me as one frequently on the minds of many young folk (and their not-so-young brethren such as myself), and seemed deserving of a slightly more in-depth answer than would befit the norms of that site. I’m fortunate because I’m generally one of the more positive humans I know, and I have primarily positive and uplifting people in my life, so I don’t find myself in this sort of situation very often. But when I do, it’s as potent as any other emotional state.

The answer (like all good answers), isn’t one answer. The answer is three answers. For me, at least. So far. It may be more by the time I’m done writing this thing out.

“How do you deal with sadness?”

Answer number one: I surround myself with the people, things, and activities that bring me joy.
This may seem the most obvious of the three, but the principle is simple: if you’re going to create an environment of sadness/negativity, you are going to have a lot of trouble not being sad. I’m not saying it’s not possible, you’re just creating more work for yourself than is necessary. I know sometimes when I get sad I don’t *feel* like being happy or being taken away from my world of wallowing (not to be confused with World of Wallowing, the less popular online role-playing game I invented), so instead of going right from sobbing to playing on the trampoline, it’s nice to have something in place that will act as a stepping stone, so instead of taking you from “depressed” to “overwhelmingly joyous” maybe it’s something that takes you from “depressed” to “pleasantly apathetic.” For me, it means instead of watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (a movie I absolutely love but does nothing to bolster my mood) — but also not being ready for the laugh-riot that is Anchorman or Dumb & Dumber — I might watch a sports documentary or a Wes Anderson film (sad but not too sad, comedy but not uproariously laugh-driven). The same is true with people; if you’re an introvert and you’re feeling down, you might not want to hit the super hip rager of a party that the popular kids are throwing, but maybe having a couple friends over to drink hot chocolate and watch Netflix (I like movies, if you haven’t gathered that already) would be enough to bolster your spirits. Maybe you’ll think it a bit passé, but I also enjoy reading with some calming but bright background music (classical, jazz, Anderson Cale) as an activity to counteract malaise.

Answer the second: I let God/Jesus do the heavy lifting.
This may not be a very popular or “cool” answer, but truthfully a lot of what gives me comfort when I’m sad or depressed is the hope that comes from relationship with Jesus as Savior. It removes a lot of the pressure that I put on myself or my successes/failures or my environment/circumstances to provide me with happiness and/or a sense of purpose, and lets me rest easy in the hope of Christ. Ultimately, the foundation of my joy comes from the wellspring of eternal love that is God, and all of life’s earthly concerns and sad matters fall into appropriately-lesser perspective by comparison.

Answer three: I don’t.
I don’t want to seem like I’m promoting the idea of wallowing in one’s own sadness, but a myth that is incorrectly perpetuated is that one needs to find a *solution* to sadness at all. The truth of the matter is that in many intense instances (death of a loved one, loss of a career, eviction, etc.), heavy sadness is a very real and very necessary response. And the same is true with lesser sad events as well. Your body is built to respond with sadness as a way to respond and reflect, and I find that meditating through the sad times can be a healthy and effective way to process and learn from sadness. If you broke your leg, you wouldn’t begrudge your body the time it needed to heal & repair, and the same is true for your emotional body as well. So oftentimes when I’m struck with sadness, I’ll let it run its course, spend some time in prayer and reflection, and let it provide the sharp contrast that makes my happiness all the brighter.

So, my anonymous occasionally-sad chum, maybe some of this is helpful to you, maybe it’s not, but either way this is how I process through the sad times, and it works for me. And if none of that helps, there’s always alcohol. Please drink responsibly.

Play on,
Dustin

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…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox! …Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagram, tumblryoutube, (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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A Man Who Knows Nothing About What It’s Like to be A Woman, But Has Opinions & Advice Anyway

Girls.

You prance around the party showing off pictures of you and your friends and you say “omg these girls are gorgeoussssss.” And you mean it. You’re not saying it to be unkind or ironic or whatever (not usually at least), you really think your girlfriends are beautiful in any way worth measuring and you want your other and you want everyone else to know it. You’re proud of them for who they are, and that makes them beautiful to you.

Then.

Later on in a different interaction you are fixated on a picture of yourself that you are contemplating deleting or having your friend delete due to the obvious litany of physical flaws that stick out to you like an adult male at a Taylor Swift concert. You look at yourself and go “blah i’m ugly and fat and awful what gives.” Your this is too that, your that is too ugh, and your ugh is the most ew that ever ew’d.

But.

The fact of the matter is that when you look at your female friends you are choosing to see beauty in all the ways that they are, truly, beautiful. But when you look at yourself, you are choosing to see ugliness…so much so that sometimes you’ll even invent ugliness where there is none. This is an unfair, unhelpful, and ultimately unhealthy way to look at yourself — at best it’s limiting your own potential, at worst it’s laying the groundwork for some pretty nasty psychological disorders.

Today.

Just today, give yourself the same benefit of the doubt and grace that you extend to those around you. See the picture of the four of you and when you get to you, choose to see the same type of beauty that you create for your friends. The gorgeous qualities they see in you, the unity and freedom that comes from not having to say “make me look skinny” before you ask a friend to take a picture of the group and hoping that people with think you’re just being funny when you say it. Choose to see a better you and a better you will emerge.

We.

All have flaws. No one is saying you have nothing to work on, or that one of life’s great (and most rewarding) challenges is self-betterment (whether physically, mentally, emotionally, or otherwise). But make your elimination of flaws a celebration and a focused journey, akin to successfully surmounting Everest, rather than just a struggle to trudge your way out of the swamp and eliminate the deficit between you and the “normal” people. Change what you can (healthily) change, accept what you cannot, and find joy in the moments in between. Use your friends for support, not comparison, and you will find yourself much improved as you face the true difficulties in store. And PLEASE don’t wear crocs. Ugh.

Play on,
Dustin

Girlfriends

Post script/disclaimer: This post was mildly directed toward women because they — both from societal and individual standpoints — tend to have to more pressure and focus put on their physical attractiveness than men and (at least in my experience) have echoed (or quoted directly) the statements above. HOWEVER, this obviously applies just as equally to men who might struggle with similar issues and/or any human that has ever had any self-doubts or self-esteem issues based on their own flaws (whether real or perceived) at any point in their lives or in the entirety of human history. So there.

…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox! …Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagramyoutube (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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Speaking in Absolutes

Longtime fans (or enemies) of mine will recall a podcast that my brother and I used to make. Due to the limitations of the internet that podcast had to go the way of the buffalo, but I’ve started up a new one for people who like to hear me talk. A lot. I could tell you about what a great waste of time this podcast is, or I could just let you listen to the inaugural episode here:

Listen to the web based version of the Speaking in Absolutes podcast

As soon as I get a solid iTunes link, I’ll post that as well so you subscribing types can subscribe. UPDATE: Subscribe to the podcast right here! I’ll also be doing an accompanying vodcast to go along with it on my youtube channel (link below). Like anything I do, I love getting feedback from all of you about things you love or hate, so don’t hesitate to give me your questions/comments. Party on, Wayne.

UPDATE 2, Here’s the companion video:

Play on,
Dustin

This is my father and I at a pool in Palm Springs, California. It is unrelated to the rest of this post.

Back by popular demand: a picture of me shirtless with my dad, whom I’ll be visiting along with my mom and sister at a resort in Palm Springs this week. So there’s that.

…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox. Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagramyoutube (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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Theology Thursday: Lent

I figure, if we can have Selfie Saturday, ManCrush Monday, Selfie Sunday, Taco Tuesday, Selfie ANYday, WomanCrush Wednesday…why not Theology Thursday? I can’t guarantee that this will be a consistently weekly series, but I can guarantee that it will happen today.

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