I like James Bond. I like him for all the obvious reasons. He is dashing, witty, intelligent, sexy, fun, etc., but it’s his less obvious qualities that make me a hard-core admirer.
This man is present. He is 100 percent focused on the here and now. A mystic couldn’t do it any better; he is our man of steely awareness. He is fully awake in every situation. His eyes don’t glaze over; there is no drool running out of the corner of his mouth. He’s no Elvis: He doesn’t mentally leave the building, nor does he daydream himself to a moonlit romantic liaison on the beaches of Belize to forget about the alligators nipping at his pointy parts.
James lives in the moment. He is not obsessing about the gorilla costume in his closet being a better camouflage, nor is he berating himself that he lost his anesthetizing cufflinks on his last mission. Bond works with the material and information at hand. He moves in present time. He has no old baggage weighing him down, no future worry obfuscating his view.
Bond does not let fear trip him up. Hang him upside down over an open flame, roiling vats of acid, sheets of crushing metal, or face to face with any of your assorted weapons of mass destruction, and James acts as if this is a daily, albeit deadly, routine. This man doesn’t get ruffled. He is not cowering under the desk when there is a semi-automatic aimed at him. I’d be the one in a fetal position, screaming bloody murder or terrified mute, just wanting it all to be quickly over. I would be panicked, hopeless and frozen in fear, wearing that deer-in-the-headlights look; whereas James would be smashingly alive, alert and ready to engage.
I admire Bond’s fearlessness; he believes totally in himself. He stays cool, calm and collected while the bomb ticks mercilessly into single-digit seconds. He doesn’t break a sweat, much less his concentration. Bond is adaptable and flexible in situations. When stymied, he becomes creative and accesses his resources: attention, focus, physical adeptness, mental acuity, secret mission accoutrements and even sexual playfulness to initiate some kind of change. There might be a prickly cactus to waylay a creeping advancer or a hot air balloon to finesse for escape.
The thing I love about James Bond is that he believes that he can always be an agent for change. He is relentless and untiring. He is full of faith, not fear. He reminds me of the Japanese proverb: “Fall down seven times. Get up eight.”
James also has his toys, the super-duper Q-devised spy gadgets and technological gizmos. Who knew a watchband or swim goggles could be so versatile, much less deadly? There is always some mechanized object that he knows how to use and has on his person. My tools are limited; there is no back-up R&D department in my life. However, I do have two resources to call my own: a well-worn brain and an overactive gift of gab. Could I talk a bad guy to death? Wear him out using my versatile vocabulary? I wonder if these resources are enough.
This reminds me of a story. Years ago, I had met a college friend and her soon-to-be husband in New York City for dinner and a show. It had been a late evening and they insisted on walking me to my car, which was parked at the far edges of Hell’s Kitchen.
We walked from the theater district and noticed this young man who kept following our trio, street after street, block after block. He moved like a lone wolf, close to the shadows and walking the periphery in decided pursuit. As we neared the car, the Lone Wolf was at my back. I turned to face him and asked, “Why are you following us?”
He pulled out a knife. My friend’s future husband, a runner, did what he knew: He ran. My friend did what she knew: She ran after her future. That left me standing alone with the Lone Wolf, a young male with a distant look in his eyes and a knife pointed menacingly at my right arm. Time stopped. Everything was surreal and in slow motion, like this was happening underwater.
I fumbled to open my pocketbook. He assumed I was going to give him money, the unspoken prey. Without a thought, I pulled out my beeper, my necessary gadget, as I was, at the time, a crisis intervention counselor. I played with a button and it began to go “beep, beep, beep” in soft, whispery bleats within the cavernous, concrete neighborhood.
The Lone Wolf looked at me in puzzlement. I could instinctively feel where he would drive the knife into my upper arm. It dawned on me that I could scream. So, I began. It came out a tiny cartoon character kind of a scream, weak and inconsequential. As I got into it, my volume picked up and my cartoon character self got bigger and bigger and I belted out one helluva sound.
I scared him. He ran. The police later said that if the Lone Wolf had had a gun, I would be dead. However, he didn’t. This time I could say I was a little like James Bond: I stayed present and used the resources I had, my beeper and my voice.
© Adele Ryan McDowell