I Dreamt of Being Perfect
Work on a major project has kept me from posting of late, and now that it’s over I feel cursed with something akin to phantom leg syndrome – I still get an itch to work on it. Four weeks ago, I hated the project and everything about it, and wanted to be free of it once and for all. Now that it’s complete, I find myself missing it, perhaps because while I was doing it I felt like I had the kind of purpose that’s been been conspicuously absent from the last few years of my life.
Now, I find myself untethered and a little lost. I’m not fully present in my own life – I’m like a ghost, playing mute witness to the things that directly affect me. I’ve been sitting on another post all week – a little opus about the joy I get from planning my own funeral – but no matter how much I tweak it, it doesn’t seem to fit my mood. That’s not to say it won’t – my own funeral is proving to be one of my favorite daydreams – it’s just the act of writing about it feels vaguely foreign, like I’m discussing someone else’s daydream. So I’ve abandoned that for the moment to try and write something more in keeping with what’s on my mind, and while trying to come up with the right combination of words it would seem Matthew Weiner has already found them for me.
Weiner is the writer/creator of Mad Men, whose brilliance has been dissected sufficiently that I need not do it here. As much as I love the show, however, I was uncomfortable with Don Draper in previous seasons. As his faithful copywriter Peggy astutely points out he “has everything, and so much of it” but he also failed to appreciate it and remained isolated from everyone. That was something I might’ve been privy to but not now, and I see little point in looking backwards. This season, however, has been different. Don and I now share similar paths, in that his life (like mine) has really gone over the cliff. The freefall was perhaps not as enjoyable as he thought it would be, and now he’s looking for a soft place to land.
It’s with that particular trajectory in mind that Weiner fashioned the voiceover that punctuates the end of the most recent episode (called “The Summer Man”):
When a man walks into a room, he brings his whole life with him. He has a million reasons for being anywhere. Just ask him. If you listen, he’ll tell you how he got there. How he forgot where he was going and then he woke up. If you listen, he’ll tell you about the time he thought he was an angel and dreamt of being perfect. And then he’ll smile with wisdom, content that he realized the world isn’t perfect.
We’re flawed because we want so much more. We’re ruined because we get these things and wish for what we had.