Monday, September 13, 2010

Modicum of Control

I am a huge fan of Mad Men.  The writing is outstanding and the plots are cerebral in ways that make me pause and think.  Last night was one episode that I really liked.

Yesterday started with promise. Well, not really in the morning.  But on Saturday morning, I was planning on running a race on Sunday morning -- a race that started about half a mile from my house.  But I am still not confident in my running shape, much less my weight and my racing ability (I haven't run a race since a debacle in April), and was generally uneasy.  Given it was a small, local race, I would want to do well, not just the best I could and be happy and content with it.  And I knew I was not going to do as well as I thought I was going to, but on the other hand I would do poorly if I didn't go.  If I didn't go to every race in which I thought I might not do as well as I hoped, well, let's just say I would not have started very many races.

And Saturday is a huge day of college football.  For me, Michigan -- Notre Dame is a bigger rivalry than Michigan -- Ohio State.  And Sunday night was Alabama --Penn State, another big game with lots of interest around the household.  And I knew I could NOT drink if I had any hope whatsoever of running "well" come Sunday.

I was on plan -- enjoy Michigan beating ND and sipping water -- until friends came over. With guacamole and chips.  And beer. Cheering against ND.  I took a beer, and said...the race is gone. But that is OK, there are lots of races and live in the now.  There aren't many moments to spend with friends and family enjoying the game.

Saturday night, I actually fell asleep early watching the Alabama game.  Like 9 p.m. early, which is a record for me.  I woke up at 8 a.m. having slept nearly eleven hours, feeling great.  I considered going to the race -- it was like a 15 minute walk away and started at 9, but I had mentally already let it go and the momentum had passed.  I figured I would just run in the afternoon and be happy.  Except the afternoon dissolved into drizzly mist, kids soccer, etc.  So, no run then either, and I felt ...disappointed.

What does all of this mean in relation to Mad Men?  Well, all season Don Draper has been struggling to deal with many things, including his life, divorce, drinking, etc.  And last night he tried to seize control of it.  He recognized his struggle and thought he wanted to gain a "modicum of control over the way he felt."  And he later described how everyone has a plan for where they want to go, and then countless choices lead people further away, until they are what they become, and, echoing Proust, ruing what they once were:
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.

That was my day.


  1. So we'll just start calling you Don? I have only watched M.M. a couple of times, but loved it. I need to start taping it and get all caught up.

    Next week will be more on track, right?

  2. I NEED to start watching MM - I hear it's great.

    The "first" football weekend is meant to be less "productive" . . . I swear I read it somewhere. ;)

  3. It's ok, football is football and you must have a beer. That said of course, I ran before the games so I could have my beer. You could have run it for fun? Ok, nah. Nevermind. LOL!


  4. Proust? I read and digested. Had to read it several times but thanks for that quote. Loved it. Oh, the football part too!

  5. Sorry you missed the race. A modicum of control is sometimes too much to ask for. I've been missing a few races lately myself, although the last one couldn't be helped. I think it's the "what might have been?" question that nags.


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