\”It is only by following your deepest instinct that you can lead a rich live, and if you let your fear of consequence prevent you from following you deepest instinct, then your life will be safe, expedient, and thin.

Katherine Hathaway.

Funny, but Hathaway here shares the same last name of one of the great \”thin\” characters of sixties/seventies television – Miss Jane Hathaway, the banker\’s secretary on Beverly Hillbillies. She does seem to embody this quote.

I read it this morning in a cluster of quotes sent by email and it got me to thinking about American obsessions with celebrities and sports heroes. Is our cultural fascination with these folks stemming from the fact that we perceive them to have \”thin bodies and fat lives?\” The paparazzi does portray them as being and doing everything that a person could want, and most interviews include words to the effect that they are living their dreams and doing every thing they always wanting to do. How many in our real everyday lives can say that?

I come from a people of safe, expedient, lives. Thin lives, where conversations dwell on the lives of others.And most of the women eventually pushed the scales to two hundred and fifty or more, none over five foot three. My aunts and grandmothers would constantly talk about others, and tear them down. I can still remember cringing when I heard them critizing yet another family member or public figure, kind of the \”who does she think she is?\” kind of thing. And wondering if I was the topic when I wasn\’t there. (Apparently, yes.)Looking back, it was so they could feel better about the choices they made, or lived by default, this I see now.

That may be the main point. That fat lives, and thin bodies, neither can be live by default in our society. Choices must be made, both at key moments and ordinary times. The easy way, to accept the defaults, lets the blame for poor decisions appear to belong to others. But it\’s still the fault of the defaulter, not the one who set up the defaults.

Yet, everything around me insists the key to life is to be safe and expedient. Insurance ads, fad diets, new laws and products are all screaming that life can and should be safer and thus more satisfying. There are no ads in print or television telling you how to follow your passions, only how to make more money working from home on the internet. Of course, one other option is offered. Numbness.

Which came first? Fat bodies or thin lives? Is one the result of the other? I could see where either could be the first, but I\’m starting to think maybe the obesity epidemic we\’re facing in kids could be the result of the thin lives they are witnessing and living. \”If that is what life is going to be like, pass the Twinkies…\” There is no place to run, explore, have adventures, except for sports and video games. And unless a child is extremely talented, they are not encouraged to continue to play sports after a certain age. No one plays for fun anymore.

I love novels where this is the character\’s struggle, to accept the defaults or choose to follow his or her heart. Even the old Austen and Bronte books deal twith this, the choice between expediency and societal norms or to live in line with one\’s heart. I\’m starting to see that the characters I write about have no problem with living according to their passions, it\’s almost second nature. Maybe, since role models have been so few, I\’m just making up my own.