On Friday night in Venice Beach, a featherless and freshly-hatched bird twitched sadly on the concrete sidewalk. Quivering beneath the foot of my good friend, the little hatchling struggled to survive. It was one of those tragic moments when the sweet innocence of life hangs precariously by a thread.
"I have to do something," my friend thought, and all the tender feelings of childhood rushed back to him. He was in town on business and trying to come to terms with a relationship that was on its way out. He was an executive at an important film company who, when faced with a featherless hatchling, felt his heart go soft for the first time in weeks, maybe even months.
Birds fall out of the nest all the time, but one thing about helping a struggling hatchling is this: the only way for most of them to make it is to leave them alone. Once you touch the delicate baby birdling, once you try too hard to help it live, you risk having it abandoned by its own mother and dying; helping can actually cause harm.
The concept isn't that far away from the women in my life who try to fix things by holding onto them, only to lose the thing they are trying to hold close.
Haven't you ever noticed that a lot of women with the "Mrs. Fix It" issue aren't trying to fix their female friends or family? They're more focused on the men in their lives. They want to fix their tortured mate. So what's that all about anyway? It's hard to say what exactly makes some of us want the things that are just a little bit more troublesome than we are. Why do some of us thirst for things that aren't always so good for us? Does it give us a purpose? Have we watched too many movies about how a passionate love affair should be? Or are we simply bored and it gives us something to do?
Take my friend, for instance: her jewelry line was taking off. Fred Segal, Nordstrom's, you name it ... everyone was dying to get ahold of her creations. She was calm. Modest. Restful. It was then, amidst talk of work, friends, and art, that we touched upon the always engaging topic of ... you guessed it ... men. You see, we all have the things that make us swoon, the things that make us sick, the things that make us run, and the things that make us sweat. Most of us, I hate to say it, are pretty predictable. We like the ones we can't get, the ones that toy with us, the ones that make us feel safe, or the ones that we can control. It's all different, depending on the person, the way you were raised, and the things we feel we need or desire. Yeah, it's life's greatest mystery. And the conversation made me realize a few things.
In my friend's case, she gravitated toward the things she could fix. It was the typical female stereotype which, I had to admit, wasn't my own M.O. I'm all for giving sage advice and guiding my man to future success and happiness. I'm all for the "Yeah, I know what you mean!" with big ole eyes and a soft gentle hand on his forearm. What woman doesn't like feeling needed? But I wasn't into the Mrs. Fix It game. I wanted something that was, for the most part, ready-to-go.
Sure, there has to be something to learn, and ways in which we can grow -- over time --together. I'm certainly not completely there yet, but, I'm all about big courage, a soft heart, and enlightenment. I guess torture falls somewhere in there too. After all, life can be a real mess sometimes -- throwing things like death, disease and infidelity in the way -- but too much torture in a mate and I just want to go out, buy a copy of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying or The Power of Now and give a nice swift kick in the ass to that oh-so tortured artist who lives comfortably, has a stocked fridge, wears hip clothes, and still blames their parents for everything that happened twenty years ago.
That's when I got to thinking that maybe she, and most people, just want to feel needed. Fixing men was one way to see our own stamp on another person. Our personal imprint on another individual. Our mark. And, come to think of it, that's pretty selfish too. It's almost as if, by feeding into our own needs and our own desire to feel good or needed by someone else, the relationship ceases to be about the man himself, but more about our reaction to the man, our interpretation of the man, and our ability to solve the man and conquer the man.
"I take the tortured artist, I fix 'em up real good, and then they're nice and ready for ... their wife!" my friend joked. But the truth is, it wasn't so funny. Because people do this all the time. We give our hearts, our compassion, our ability to wholeheartedly love and accept someone, to our mates. We try to help our partner, advise them, and love them so much, so unconditionally, only to have them eventually pick up and leave once we're done with all that fixing. It wasn't a coincidence that my friend visiting from New York saw a struggling hatchling on the street that night. I don't believe in coincidences. He felt compelled to tell me about that experience for a reason. At the end of the night, I realized why that story was so important. There's nothing like helping another being. There's simply nothing, nothing in the world, that warms the heart so much or makes us feel needed and worthwhile. But sometimes, just like that helpless hatchling struggling for survival, in order to truly help, we need to step away, let it go, and watch that birdling fly.