Sunday, September 21, 2014


One of my favorite operas of all time is Mozart's 'Don Giovanni'. There are many parts of the opera that repeatedly pop up in my mind. However, the frustrated aria sung by Masetto sticks in my head more than the others. In "Ho Capito, signor, si", Masetto is expressing his resentment at Don Giovanni for pushing him out of the scene, but knows there is nothing he can do. Why? Because Don Giovanni is his boss.

We all have them, in some form. Odds are we all have one at our place of employment, telling us what to do and what rules to follow. Sometimes, we really enjoy their placement above us in the food chain - because they provide shelter, stability and guidance. Other times, like for poor Masetto, they are overbearing and unruly. (And for the record, I don't do well with reporting to someone, and have largely avoided this power structure in my professional career as a result)

However, when you really analyze it, we have installed bosses throughout our lives. Most of us wake up to an alarm clock. This electronic patron informs us that it is time to get out of our comfortable beds and start our days. Some of us have relied on applications installed on our phones that alert us of our next appointment, tell us when to head to the airport, or even which medication we should take that day. We rely on physical journals to mark down our daily caloric intake so that we can take control of our weight. And, who hasn't hired a personal trainer or attended a class at a gym run by one because we know we wouldn't do the hard work otherwise if this physically fit person wasn't barking at us to keep going?

All of these things assume a hierarchy over our lives, if we let them. But, here is the key "if we let them." That alarm clock has a snooze button. Those phone apps can be silenced. We can "misplace" our food journals. And we can also choose to not go to the gym. We have to want to be led.

One way we can get to that point of submitting to a boss is to understand the full spectrum of what they do for us. Certainly, they help us get to a goal (Be on time; Lose weight; Stay on track). But, just as significant, they also shape us, reform us, and contain us.

It's that last one that works so much for those who lean toward the submissive side of this power exchange. Many of us thrive when we are contained. Many of us feel liberated only after we have been shackled. We do not have to worry about appearing to lead, but dutifully, passionately follow and carry out commands.

I was recently away from home on business for a time longer than I could remember. Once I came home, my girl started listing all of the times she felt frustrated, uncertain and unsafe (this wasn't immediate - she relished the first 24 hours I was away). She came to a conclusion that once spoken gave me such a rush:

"I really think I need a boss in my life."

Signora, si. 


Lulu said...

Thanks, this post was timely. As someone who recently and gladly stopped being the boss of a large number of people, I am usually thrilled that I no longer have that responsibility. It was often exhausting and frustrating. I know I went home most days quite happy to pass off the "boss" baton to my spouse. I loved it when I could stop thinking, planning and worrying, knowing he would manage everything including me, if only for a few hours.
However, after a very busy week this week and no one rushing to assist me or delegate to, my frustration level was high and my thought was somewhat the opposite of your girls. I looked around and said "I think I need minions."

Deity said...

Minion to do what, exactly?