I went to see Julie and Julia because I, like most other Americans of a certain age who like food, have a history with Julia Child. Seeing the movie brought back an episode from junior high school. By seventh grade, I was pretty competent cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and doing needlework. Being a feminist in training, I wanted to take shop. Mr. Murphy, my ancient (OK who knows how old he was, but he was gray and bald and had leathery skin, so he was likely over 50 at the time) guidance counselor refused: “shop is for boys; home economics is for girls.” I expected my mother to back me up, but for some reason she did not.
I had no interest in making rice crispy treats, which was not the kind of thing we cooked at home and was the kind of thing they taught in home economics. Part way through the year, when we were told to cook a whole dinner at home and then bring in a report, I decided to cook from Julia Child. I am sure the meal was perfectly delightful, but the motive on my part was not to make a delicious dinner for the family, but to show my guidance counselor and parents that I should have been allowed to learn something that I did not know how to do and could not learn from a book (woodworking and other “shop” skills).
I enjoyed the movie (it’s a pleasant couple of hours and Meryl Streep is wonderful), but the interesting after thought for me was the difference in the happiness of an individual depending on motivation in life choices. Is something done for joy (with recognition being delightful, but somewhat incidental) or is it being done because one needs recognition and then feels satisfied on getting it? From a yoga perspective, is it “actionless action” (see Bhagavad Gita) or is it acting out of a need to fulfill the ego, which inevitably binds one in the fierce dichotomy and inner tug or war of the opposites of longing and gratification, pain and pleasure?