jo march – my imaginary friend

Many of us had imaginary friends as young children. If your imaginary friend grew up alongside you, what would his/her/its life be like today? (Didn’t have one? write about a non-imaginary friend you haven’t seen since childhood.)  Daily Prompt

As a child I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott a number of times. My life was inspired by the sisters in the March family. I especially wanted the impetuous Jo to be my friend and, more than anything, I wanted to have the courage to be like her.

Jo the likable headstrong tomboy, who loved activity, adventures, the outdoors and wasn’t so good at being feminine, gave me hope in the early years of title IX; when the ‘civil war’ of women sports came of age and I wanted to be a part of it. Like Aunt March, my family never missed an opportunity to warn me “You’ll never find a boyfriend and get married if you continue to join all of those teams.” Well, Jo didn’t care for the idea of marriage and neither did I. For different reasons of course!

At fifteen, Jo sets out on her career path. Out in the world as a companion, a governess and a writer, she earns her education, her independence and helps her family during hard times. With Jo’s spirit at my side, I entered college. Determined to be a strong, autonomous woman, I let Jo influence me as I chose the field of education for my profession, and decided never to be financially dependent on anyone.

All throughout her life, Jo takes charge of her dreams. When life throws her curve balls, she is steadfast in her will no matter what. She is a feminist, a champion for social change, and a very loyal person. There is no “lazy” in Jo March. She doesn’t think about herself and how things will work out, she remains open and altruistic and her life becomes its own reward.

My life has followed a similar path. Albeit in a different time, with different social conditions, I find myself in a “harvest time” of retirement satisfaction and contentment. Looking back, I was able to support myself in a 28 year career which fit my active personality like a glove. Occasionally on a walk, I bump into a former student who lives or works in my neighborhood, and I am proud, so proud to know them. Just like Jo, love and marriage found me when I wasn’t looking. Marriage! Never ever did I believe the world would allow me to marry the person I fell for and wanted to spend my life with.

I can hear Jo’s voice in my head today as she sits with her family at the end of the book – “There’s no need for me to say it, for everyone can see that I’m far happier than I deserve.”

On that note, I can lovingly say that the spirit of Jo March is still around me…reading and writing and getting outdoors for some exercise. She is the romantic, the imaginative dreamer forever in the back of my mind prodding me on. Jo was never about sitting around admiring her daily harvest, she was forever busy, planting the seeds for the next year. Her character reminds me to hold fast to my dreams, because if I put my mind to work, if I am determined and not lazy about it…there will be a happily ever after!

Jo March

Jo March

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