Friday, 21 June 2013

"Marialvas" and Superwomen

In my young days, “Marialvas” dedicated themselves to cars and women, or bullfighting and women, with or without a mixture of fado and copious amounts of alcohol. Handsome or ugly, they wouldn’t be particularly smart or educated, but they carried themselves tirelessly in the aforementioned occupations.
Back in those days, women were either mothers or women, rarely both, since when mothers gained in size and, rounded themselves, they would lose their husband’s interest; or when they were women, they would surround themselves with single aunts and/or maids, worried with dresses and parties they would delegate attention on their children to secondary plans.
Today, everything is different.
Today’s superwomen are everything: mothers, spouses, professionals and maids; and to accomplish such feats they perform acrobatic pirouettes in order to accomplish everything in a proper fashion: they take care of their children, they take care of themselves for their husband, they are perfect in their workplace and still tidy up the house.
This is impossible! You cannot accomplish everything, especially since they do not have the time to be themselves.
Tense and irritable, they organize themselves more and more and then lose themselves in grim consequences: breakdowns, depression, separation and other clumsiness, and many broken dreams despite their hard work and great commitment.
What about men? A wise man doesn’t brag about his female conquests, nor about his cars’ supersonic speeds, nor his wine soaked nights. If he did, he would have feminists to worry about, journalists, and a whole bunch of critics, and who knows even police pursuits.
What do they brag themselves about? I amaze myself with what I hear in the “media”, in a repetitive and successive manner, a sentence with a glint of self-praise: “I don’t sleep much, but…”; “I sleep little time”; “I didn’t sleep”.
They get little sleep? Would someone want a surgeon to operate them, with imprecise hands and sleepy eyes because of lack of sleep? Of course not.
Then why would we want that those who govern important institutions or nations, who deal with day to day affairs or who deal with important economic aspects, who work here and there in the most varied institutions, or – to sum it up – those who need to think, deal with those matters in sleep deprivation?
It is known that sleep deprivation affects the frontal lobe and its executive functions, affecting the abstract reasoning as well, thought flexibility, and creative capacity, memory and learning.
In his book “Sleep Fahring”, Jim Horne questions exactly what effects sleep deprivation has on people in key decision positions.
Indeed, the most important advice Clinton gave Obama was for him to sleep well, since he did some mistakes each time he didn’t sleep enough.
Back to the “old school”, we don’t have a record of Dr. Mário Soares ever bragging about not sleeping enough, and nor did Einstein.

Because … who doesn’t sleep well doesn’t think well and, as Nietzsche said in “Thus spoke Zarathustra”: “All of you, who love frenzied work (...), your labor is the curse and the desire of forgetting who you are.” 

Professor Teresa Paiva
Lisbon, June 21 2013

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