Received an unintentional wake-up call from my granddaughter yesterday. Yes, I’ve been missing in action here, for some time now. Lots of physical issues, doctors appointments, new routines and medications, other family members hospitalized, as well as the psychological and emotional roller-coaster ride the current state of this country has been experiencing. I am fairly certain that I am not the only one who is feeling a bit shaky and lost. The desire to duck and run, find a quiet place and just work at breathing normally is exceptionally strong at the moment. The desire to write, although still alive, has been pretty far down on my list of priorities. You could say it hasn’t even made that particular list for a while now.
There is a distinct (I believe) mindset involved in writing anything. And to write in any kind of public forum (including a personal blog) only increases the parameters and personal responsibility of that mindset. To use a metaphor, for me the words have been taken hostage, kidnapped, and they no longer hold the same meanings for what they used to define. Many of our most prominent leaders spout lies and falsehoods meant to deceive and hide any truth, at best only to obscure reality for their own personal gain. Yet, want us to believe they are still speaking the same language we have always shared. To have principles now seems to put one automatically into the minority and invite attack fueled by fear and hatred, as well as explosive violence. It’s difficult to speak, let alone think of writing under those kinds of circumstances.
So, why am I here doing that, you might ask. Because my granddaughter posted a question on Facebook, and I was suddenly reminded of who I am, what I originally set out to do here four months ago, and it all connected with a memory of her when she was only four years old. You can read that story here:
I was in the delivery room when Kaitlynn was born. It was a moment I cherish and will never forget. And that weekend trip we were on is just as strongly lodged in memory because of what she taught me that day. That we must look to see the beauty around us because it calms and nurtures our soul. If we spend too much time looking into the darkness, we might actually miss the light that is present there.
And the light is there, it is what defines the darkness, gives it its dimensions. And, I must mention, that is the reason I write. When I put words to paper I am seeking enlightenment. That might sound rather strange to some, but it is my reality. I put words on paper in the hopes of being able to see, as clearly as possible, the nebulous thoughts that are constantly roving through the darkness of my mind. The human mind is a cavern of constant chaos. Putting words to that chaos brings them into the light of my awareness and only then can I choose where I stand, what I can believe in, and hopefully find a path I can follow through it.
If you think about it, language is a sort of ‘Cloud Factory’. All those words pouring out from millions of voices. Some no more than belching clouds of smog, while others might create beautiful and even healing images. Some choking the life force from our lungs, others creating paths of acceptance, compassion, and yes, even freedom. And that’s exactly what my granddaughter’s posted question did for me. It cleared the air of all that confusion, reminded me of who I really am, what I have been about for years, and led me directly back to this series of essays I started in March with a post titled Beginning.
This is the question she re-posted on Facebook:
So we wanna ban abortion but not allow women to get their tubes tied per request?
And I started laughing as I immediately began forming an answer to her question, telling her that I could probably write a twenty page paper in response. Her words turned on all the light bulbs within my cavern of chaos, creating a path that led directly back here to this series of essays. These posts began as a direct response to the #MeToo movement. The Movement began as a push back against the abuse most women have experienced for centuries as a part of being born female. And Kaitlynn’s question has a direct correlation to that issue. Why shouldn’t women have the right to decide what is best for their own person, beginning with their bodies and physical health and well-being?
It was my intention to discuss three myths that have shaped our views and definitions of women and their role in society. How those realities have been shaped by a male-dominant society and are still a huge part of who we are today. But with my own health concerns, the hospitalization of three very close relatives in the past two months, and the fear filled atmosphere in our daily lives, it’s been a long hard climb to get here and do this thing, which started as a vague idea, but felt so right, and still does. This is not an excuse, or another apology. It is a heartfelt thank you to my granddaughter for clearing the air and making this current moment possible.
As far as Kaitlynn’s question goes, in a male dominant society women have been defined by men through the centuries. We have been labeled as possessions, the weaker sex, not capable of clear and logical thought processes (nor allowed to learn them), unable to protect ourselves (and not allowed to learn how to do that), our behaviors have been scrutinized and detailed on a fast descending scale. I could go on and on, but the sad reality of all of it, is that for some men, that simply means that the female body is no more than his sexual turf over which he must maintain control. The products of her body (children) are also his, and in many cultures exist to prove his own virility. And how better to ensure that than by removing her from any process of what might or might not be done to her own body?
My previous essays go much deeper into that reality and are based in Historical fact. That is not to say that I believe all men think in this fashion. I don’t. But, I do believe that all of us are affected by these centuries-old set of ideas about what women are all about. We still don’t know that, do we? It has only been in the last hundred years that women have been ‘allowed’ to vote. We still have a long way to go.
What I have already written is about the role of myth in creating those definitions. I have already mentioned what is referred to as the Monomyth, the story of the Heroe’s Journey that can be found in most, if not all cultures. The story of how a youth becomes a man, a leader, successfully bringing a new health to the society in which he lives. There is always a reward for completing that journey. And most often that reward is the love of the woman of his dreams. She isn’t his partner on the journey, she is a secret he holds within himself. And she is his reward for proving himself. That makes her far less than a true help-mate, and more a possession in need of his guidance and protection.
As always, these posts are meant to encourage a discussion, a sharing of thoughts. I have usually added some sort of quote to help that discussion, and this one is no different.