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Summer Chaos and Brave

I’m the first one awake most mornings. I’m the last one to bed at night. Since it is summer, those bedtimes are later than usual. I rarely get my younger two off to sleep before 10 pm. Later if it happens to be one of the nights when our cul de sac fills up with kids playing night games, which happens every other night. Some days I get a nap in the afternoon. Most days I don’t. Usually the days have long stretches of time when I can focus on work or projects. Yet randomly a quarrel will break out, and I am the one who has to drop everything I’m doing to go create peace again. None of this is so exhausting as it used to be. As they mature, my kids are more able to help themselves and solve their own problems. It is just that everyone is here all the time and we all depend upon me to create the structure of our lives. I do it because it is important, because I crave the order as much as anyone else. This balance we’ve arrived at does seem to be the best solution currently available given the constraints of summer schedule and business requirements.

All of the above is what I took with me when I went to see the movie Brave. I wanted to love the movie, instead I only liked it because it prodded me right in my emotional baggage. You see, I want to be Merida, wild and free. I want to jump on the back of my horse and gallop through the forest shooting arrows and climbing waterfalls. I even want that glorious, untameable red hair. Instead I am Eleanor, the mother, the one who quells the fun and imposes order. I was very frustrated that Eleanor kept imposing princess behavior on Merida which seemed completely unvalued by anyone else in the society. It is one thing for a mother to insist her child learn something because it will definitely benefit the child later. This just seemed pointless. The movie was telling me that it is the job of adult women to impose civilization. “You must be Eleanor.” The movie seemed to say to me. “Be the embodiment of constraint.”

In after thought, I remember that there were portions of the movie where Eleanor also seemed trapped by her own expectations. At the end of the film Eleanor also gets to ride a horse. Lessons are learned all around, I suppose.

Each day I see all the things that are necessary. I see why they are necessary. I see how things must be done in order to achieve long term growth and goals. But the practical application of all of that leaves me being the one to impose order and structure on chaos and requiring others to help me. Part of me loves doing these things. I like order and calmness. I like my hair smooth while I create something of beauty with a needle and thread. Yet I also want to run through the woods with leaves caught in my wild hair. I think I need to see Brave again and view it while considering Merida and Eleanor as two possible aspects rather than feeling I must be one or the other.

1 comment to Summer Chaos and Brave

  • CKH

    I think it’s worth noting that, while on the surface it does not appear that there is not much value placed on the constrained and ‘queenly’ behavior by the rest of their society, there are two distinct instances where it is only those traits which keep that society from falling apart at the seams and collapsing into total anarchy and civil war. First by Eleanor herself, and then by Merida in her act of selflessness that later followed.

    I think it was very clearly by design that they showed both characters starting out at the extreme opposite ends of the spectrum, and then both learn from each other and soften their stances by the end; it is not just a matter of Merida having to ‘grow up’ and do her part. It’s like you say, lessons are learned all around, and compromises are made by both parties toward a more balanced outlook.

    You may also note that Eleanor is wearing her hair down at the end of the movie, just another small detail I saw to illustrate that point, along with the riding of horses and so forth.

    So yeah, I think the message they want to send is about finding that happy medium, the balanced perspective, and not the extremes. I’d say give it another viewing, and see if it still comes across to you the same way the second time through. 🙂