When my sister travels she straps on a fanny-pack for her money, some hand-sanitizer and tinted lip gloss. Last summer, she went to Rome with her family– fanny pack included as usual. She’s got eyes to die for and a classy wardrobe in general, but with her sneakers, khakis and fanny pack she personified the average american tourist in the Eternal City. Still, Italian men followed her around, whistling their approval. Later she told me laughing, It was so weird. I had my two teenagers as bodyguards, but those guys kept trying to make eye contact with me! Stereo-typically Latin men adore women as if God himself sprinkled fleshy beauty around for their enjoyment. And the women, they know they are beautiful. They usually act the part. A Latin girl receiving no attention at all, takes offense.
Years ago, I watched a movie, set in some mythical tropical country. The leading man (a tall native wearing a colorful sarong) was looking for a wife. He walked past all beauties lined up for him straight to the homeliest girl in town. She would not meet his eyes, she was so unsure of herself. But he wanted her, despite her social ineptitude, so instead of offering the usual price for a wife– one cow, he offered the shy girl’s father seven cows. The village gossips gasped. The girl’s father incredulous himself, took the cows and handed over his daughter before the guy changed his mind. The movie ended showing the girl’s transformation from a homely nothing to a confident beauty, all because someone thought she was worth more than anyone else. The take home message? When you value people more than they value themselves, they tend to rise to the occasion. The movie is too cheesy to endure a second time– or even a first time if you’re over twelve. Still the idea rings true on many levels and especially for someone longing to create. You need someone who believes you are better than you really are. You need your own batch of Italian men equivalents to push you to greater creativity.
The Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl said,
If you see man as he really is, you make him worse. But if we over-estimate him, we promote him to what he can really be.
Maybe you don’t have anyone looking up to you and pushing you to fly– no matter, because you can always find someone you can over-estimate!
I’ve posted Frankl’s talk before, but I think it’s worth re-visiting. Check it out: