Taming My Inner Higgins
by Cathleen Elise Rossiter
Stalwart, upright, honorable. All of these are admirable qualities possessed by Jonathan Quayle Higgins, III, the fictional majordomo of the Hawaii estate of the also fictional Robin Masters in the 1980’s television show Magnum, P.I. (which I have been marathon watching shamelessly of late).
Higgins, as he is affectionately known to Magnum and his friends, has a great many admirable qualities that we, the viewers, are made privy to on occasion. Higgins is not prone to letting down his guard, allowing any glimpse into his innermost self where he hides Jonathan – his childhood self who just wants his father to love him, to be proud of him, and to want to get to know him. Sadly, Higgins spends most of his time working so hard to attain perfection that his great qualities often are used against him.
One of the most prevalent examples of this is in Higgins’ continual accusations that Thomas Magnum, the estate’s security manager, has fouled something up (broken something, stolen something, or has been generally slovenly and irresponsible) again. Higgins’ admirable qualities of dependability, thoughtfulness/eye for detail, and thoroughness have led to a perfectionism that has taken over and become, for Jonathan, the definition of himself. Without perfection, Jonathan the child/person and Higgins the majordomo have both failed – therefore, Jonathan Quayle Higgins, III is a failure. As the character of Jonathan Quayle Higgins, III develops and we are allowed glimpses behind the curtain of his life, the root causes of his insecurity are revealed, making him a character we can identify with, like the fundamental person of, and sympathize with on a personal level.
It is easy to allow our great qualities to take over and become the definition of who we think we should be. There are so many voids in our lives that we cling to anything that seems to fill even one. Yet our worth is not diminished if we can’t bake the perfect pie, or our laundry isn’t sunshine fresh, or the nail was crooked when we hammered it in. Our worth is not diminished because we’d rather be home with our family than working for the sixteenth straight hour, nor is it diminished because circumstances beyond our control had a say in the outcome of something we were working on or in charge of. Our worth is fixed, and it is great, simply because we exist.
Identifying with the Higgins side of me is not pleasant, although I do welcome it. When I find myself becoming overly critical, judgmental, and dissatisfied, I need to tame my Inner Higgins by addressing the root cause and adjusting my behavior accordingly (making apologies and restitution where necessary). In doing so, I become a better person. I come closer to being my true self.