My daughter called to me from her carseat, her voice tinged with sleep. The four-hour drive to our new home in a small Mexican town was overlapping with her naptime, but there was no other way to do it. The road was empty except for us, so I picked her up out of her carseat, wrapped her in my scarf, and nursed her to sleep on my lap. As she dozed in my arms, I watched a dog take off running at top speed along a row of restaurants. Something about the freedom of its movement, unhindered by cages or leashes, stirred some ancient part of me.
My phone dinged with an alert. One quick look was all it took to convince me to swipe it away. A woman named Christine Blasey Ford was volunteering to be crucified. This was not news to me, just another reminder of the deep pain women have endured for centuries. But it made me wonder, once again, what kind of world we are living in.
The internet has been full of these stories lately — a year where a million women stepped into a beam of sunlight to say, #metoo. These stories are as old as history — they are the scars that our grandmothers were buried in. Yet now we are unearthing them, blowing off the dust and placing them in carefully lighted display boxes so that the world can relearn the value of empathy. It feels necessary, but mostly we are untrained archeologists struggling to understand the depth of our discoveries.
The feminine rising
There is a lot of talk about a feminine uprising, about how all this storytelling has awakened us, a thousand social media posts asserting that there will be hell to pay on this election or that countrywide march. Yes, I agree. It is time for all of us to stop sleepwalking, but I don’t believe that the revolution will, to borrow a phrase, be televised.
I used to think it would happen through mass protests. We would clog the streets holding signs and shouting so that no business as usual could happen. They would have to listen. They would have to respond to our demands. But no — we have overtired babies and mortgages to pay. No one has time to plan a revolution, much less deal with all the unopened mail on the counter. And besides, there is no “they” who is not “me.”
I’ve stopped waiting for someone else to give me the code word. I’ve stopped putting stock in poster paint. I’ve started to do this on my own terms.
My revolution finds me driving in a rusty van down a Mexican highway, nursing my toddler to sleep on my lap and gasping at the beauty of a dog running exactly as he is supposed to. My revolution finds me waking up at dawn every day to meditate under the careful watch of Venus, and then dancing in the blood-red rivers at Kali Ma’s feet as the sun cuts pink across the sky. My revolution finds me licking every single drop of juice from an orange, just picked from a tree and sliced open with a razor sharp stainless steel knife that I clean with the same reverence a warrior might give to her sword.
My revolution has me doing a million things every day, and you may never know about any of them.
A different kind of life
We have made a big mess of this thing called power, and I know that I am unable to protect my daughter (and all the daughters) from all that has been done. Even if I kept my daughter tied to me her whole life, she would not escape knowing what men who are hurting do to women who are hurting. It runs in the water of every river I’ve drunk from, but that doesn’t mean I’m about to stay thirsty.
Decades ago, I woke up to the realization that my life couldn’t look like everyone else’s. I didn’t have the words then, but now I can say that continuing to do things the way I have watched them be done will only deepen the void in our self-love. This self-love is what we are lacking, and, like any good medicine, the remedy grows near the cause of the disease.
I try not to place all my revolutionary aspirations onto my daughter, but if there is one thing I hope to share with her about life, it is this: There is only us, and that is enough. Actually, it is more than enough — it is everything. The moment we turn our attention inward and ask what would bring the greatest joy to our lives — and honor that wisdom — is the moment we derail the train.
This focus on ourselves is not self-serving. When one person lives in the light of the beauty that is uniquely theirs to experience, the world becomes a little brighter.
This focus on what brings us joy is also different form self-indulgence. One part of my joy comes from a deep love affair with the nourishment of my body and mind, and it takes tremendous discipline not to give into the ease of a convenience store meal or a daily ritual of entertainment that dulls my subtle perceptive abilities. This work is an exercise of the mind — not giving into its lower desires and instead, allowing the higher parts of us to set the course. And the tricky part is not to become so rigid that I miss out on the occasional pleasure of potato chips or a blockbuster movie.
This focus is also not confined to impacting our own lives. Get out, build a community of supportive warriors. Find out the right way to rock the boats and toss the boxes of tea into the water, but don’t forget to come home each night to yourself. You are the only source of your power — don’t forget to recharge.
Life with meaning
Your revolution doesn’t have to be a move to another world. It can be as simple as learning to cook food that sustains your soul, switching to unbleached tampons, writing a list of your desires and taking steps to fulfill them, or forgiving someone who really, really hurt you. Your life doesn’t have to look like mine, but if you want different results from what we’re getting, it simply can’t look like theirs.
Let’s not start a war. Let’s not take up arms and hold the government hostage until they listen to our demands. Instead, let us surrender deeply into our hearts. Let us hold our children close and protect their innocence while they are young, and then let us find the courage to allow them do big things when they are ready. Let us tell our girls the power of their bodies. Let us tell our boys what it means to have honor. Then let us show them how to listen to their dreams by following our own.
And in doing so, we will be able to ask the question: What kind of world are we living in? and answer with peace in our hearts.