My all time favorite movie is Gone With the Wind. If I could pack myself up and move down south, buy a money pit of a historical home on 10 or more acres, I would do it faster than a New York second. I fell in love with Antebellum and Greek Revival architecture at the age of 12, when I took a trip to Louisiana with my grandmother. We visited the plantations of days gone by. I was instantly captivated. My mind would wander on what life might have been like as a young woman during that time. I pictured myself in a giant hoop dress, the most fashionable bonnet and dancing the night away with a handsome gentleman.
I love wearing hats and dressing up so much so, that Derby Day is the equivalent of Christmas day for me. I am not exactly “artistic,” but I am crafty. I make my hats and I go all out. It is the one day that I can wear the most ostentatious, fabulous creation that I can come up with and not get stared at!
If I close my eyes I can smell the sweet magnolia trees that bloom in the summer; see live oaks so expansive that make me feel like I am only two feet tall when I stand next to them. I yearn for this. All of these things I have loved since my very first time viewing Margaret Mitchell’s Civil War drama. They were seared forever on my heart when I experienced the magnificent sights in person as a young girl.
I think a lot about the main character, Scarlett Katie O’Hara, in my day-to-day life. On more than one occasion I have uttered the words “great-balls-of-fire,” or “I’ll think about that tomorrow, as tomorrow is another day.” My favorite however,…….you think you’ve guessed it don’t you? Most think it’s the iconic statement from Rhett Butler, when he leaving his beloved Scarlett, since he cannot get her to return his love.
Nope. Not it. My favorite line from that move occurs when Scarlett has hit rock bottom. It is I would argue, the most vulnerable and defining moment of her charmed Southern life. She has all but given upon her return to her beloved Tara (and no, I am not named after her homestead). She finds Tara all but destroyed; her father, Mr. O’Hara, senile after her mother has died; her charmed, carefree life is unrecognizable.
She is tired and hungry; angry and exhausted. In a dramatic scene on the hill overlooking the destruction left behind by war, she collapses in sheer agony. The scene gives the viewer the feeling that she is in the literal bowels of Hell; dark and foggy from the burning going on all around the plantation.
Falling to her knees, in despair, she beats the earth with her delicate hands. In that moment she finds a lone carrot in the dirt. It was moment that can be described as nothing more than primal desperation she claws that red-southern clay dirt to retrieve the carrot, as if she were nothing more an animal foraging for food. This beautiful refined southern belle, never knowing hunger pains in her young life, was so hungry at that moment that she ate straight from the ground. Dirt and all. He body was so overwhelmed, that it purged itself immediately after she consumed the lonely root vegetable. She had broken, but only for a moment. She pulls herself up with every ounce of energy that she could summon, and exclaims, “As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re are not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when its all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat, or kill, as God is my witness I’ll never be hungry again.” That statement there, was my go to for so long. It still is when things get tough.
So, as the title suggests, what if Scarlett O’Hara was a life-coach in 2019? Many would argue that she is probably the least qualified person tasked with coaching others along their life journey. I respectfully disagree. Ok, maybe it was not the best decision to have stolen her sisters fiancé; or pursued another woman’s husband with a false hope for most of her life (while we are on that….. everyone wants to shame Scarlett for pursing Ashley….but that man has a lot of responsibility to bear for leading her on……I will table that one for now).
She was a beautiful but spoiled-rotten, demanding, conniving bitch for all intents and purposes. Or, was she really all of those things?
I like to think Scarlett possessed a rare tenacity and grit for a woman of her age, in that time period. She in reality, was not a bitch, she was determined. Smart. Calculated. She was the epitome of a feminist in my opinion. Scarlett knew what she wanted, and figured out a way to get from point A to B. Her methods were not always the most conventional, ethical, or “Christian-like” in the eyes of some.
Despite all of that, Scarlett’s character is a tremendous example of the proverbial “breaking of the glass ceiling.” She went against the societal norm for women. She was supposed to be in mourning after her first husbands death, yet she danced and put on a bonnet that was not black. She could not have given two-you-know-what’s about what others thought of her. This was evidenced over and over in her life. Yes, her love life was a mess, but that in no way did that define her mind, and what she was truly capable of.
In today’s world, she would have been a very successful entrepreneur. After that moment of desperation in the field, and vowing to never go without again she worked hard. She was not afraid to get her hands dirty, to carry buckets, to do what was needed to get to the next level. She opened a lumber business which allowed her capitalize on the destruction that war brought. She was insightful enough to know that the South would need to rebuild. Shrewd and smarter than most of the men she was competing against.
At the end of the day she was “too much” for many. I can relate so personally to that. Like Scarlett, I have been hungry. I have faced hard times, war, if I may, in my own life. I have vowed to keep moving, putting one foot in front of the other. I am on a quest to build a legacy for my future generations to come. It is not enough to have the Rhett Butler’s of life come in to cater and care for our every want. For some, that is what they desire. There is nothing wrong with that. For others, it pushes us harder to become more. The fear of experience that “hunger” again is so real, that there is nothing, or no one that can satisfy that.
Scarlett O’Hara fed her hunger, and continued to plant and harvest her crops. She worked hard, to ensure she would always have the ability overcome. She would do more than simply survive. She set out to build her empire, despite her circumstances.