Mad Men, Season 6

We finally got around to watching the season opener of Mad Men last night.  I love that show.  We’ve been watching it since it started, and I always liked it, but I never knew why before last night.

Season 6 is going to be good. It speaks to me. I get it. The show is all about becoming yourself. Your self.

Funny, the idea of Hawaii stripping you down, making you new again. Letting you experience your self like never before. I had déjà vu while watching.

All Don wants is to experience himself, over and over again, as new. That’s why he needs the constant stream of new women. We are as others see us, and we are constants to ourselves, on the inside. Putting ourselves in a new place, or with a new person, lets us be both at once.

When Peggy reams the writers for not doing their job well enough, she’s calling them out for not being enough themselves. When you’re not enough yourself in life, when you don’t give life all you’ve got, when you try to please others before you please yourself, it shows. Not only does it show, it weakens your game. Peggy knows that sometimes we all need a little resistance in our lives to bring out our best selves.

Opening yourself, your mind, your body is very hard. I’ve done it three times, as an adult. Three labors, three beautiful babies. And three times where I felt like ANYTHING that could get in, did. I imagine that I experienced something similar at birth, although of course I don’t remember. (Did I ever mention that I was born two months premature? I was healthy, but only two pounds at birth. I hung out in the hospital for a while.) I also imagine that I will experience this again at death. It’s a feeling that comes at those junctures, those borderlands between life and death. It’s the feeling that accompanies change. Change hurts. Change is productive. Change can be wonderful, but it can also be really fucking scary.

In the episode, Meghan worries that her role as an actress will change how people feel about her, how they perceive her, especially when she has to push someone down a set of stairs. Actors probably experience the opening sensation whenever they are called on to take on a new role. Well, at least any actor worth his or her salt. I envy them. I tried to act in high school, and I am just not cut out for it. I’m too introverted. But I am drawn to that ability to constantly shift. My artistic tendencies take me there, as does my writing. Those are points where I can open. I think that sex also opens me. I imagine that some drugs do the same for other people.

The key, which I’m not sure even Don Draper understands, is keeping your filters in place. You cannot let EVERYTHING in at once, because you will go crazy. Literally. Opening makes you suggestible, it makes you obsessive, and it makes you addictive. It can be fun and productive. It can help you make connections in so many ways. It can also make you do things that you should not. It can draw you away from your life, your loved ones, and reality.

So, how does anyone court openness in a healthy way? You need an authority figure, an outside link, or more than one, who you trust implicitly, to draw you back, help you back into yourself, and make you whole again. Don knows that, as he climbs into bed next to Meghan. But even more important, you need to learn to listen to your fears. All of your emotions, actually. But fear is the gatekeeper, and it must be confronted head-on. You must talk with fear, calm her, question her, heed her sometimes, hold her hand and take her with you others, and yet others, leave her behind at the gate as you go forward.