“Why are you speaking out so much? You’re going to get hurt”.
Going to get hurt? I’ve been hurt my whole life, what don’t I already know about hurt? I’ve been hurt deeply enough to have died. Literally. (Life skillz pro tip: I highly recommend dying near a handy defibrillator; CPR hurts like a bitch – for days).
As a matter of record, this year has been one of the most painfully tumultuous for me and yet, I’m still here and I’m still talkin’ – unflinchingly.
I wish to continue asking people to step out of what they’ve learned is ‘success’ and question if it truly makes their heart sing, keeps them at peace and benefits anyone/anything else outside of constant, immediate personal gratification.
Well known, feminist activist, Gloria Steinem said, women become more activist conscious and engaged as they grow older because they lose power. I agree with her, re: our current paradigm. We are prized for our beauty, our ‘niceness’; especially our willingness to ‘pleasantly get along’ regardless of any inequity levels in front of us.
She also said, men gain power as they age; that many tend to become more conservative – because they become more fearful about losing that advantageous power and so will use whatever manner to constrict others to protect that cushion.
I believe her words. I’ve lived them, but I refuse to accept them for me and my son.
This year especially highlighted my weaknesses, particularly from a genetic disease that doesn’t allow me to march or dance in all the ways I love, and from profound losses that reshaped my life, but I found ways to help change old paradigms anyway.
I’ve been gifted words and words are a superpower.
My words burst or seep in all kinds of form. I’ll write statement after statement about injustices that ignite my passion or calls to fierceness. I often confess my words can be a stream of the most colorful profanity, that I could be speaking 6 other languages I don’t even know. Sometimes my words just want to be heard in the softest tones of poetry. Sometimes my words are filled with laughter, and sometimes my words can embarrass the hell out of me.
What my words mostly are though, are a life source; a critical part of my purpose. It’s been said so since I first spoke (a string of 3 expletives). Since then my family gleefully and variously confirmed it further by calling me, Hank after my most argumentative uncle, Henry. When I was mercilessly teased as mouthy by the mouthiest, damned funny uncle, Philip. When my mother declared, after Pipisiw, my name was really Sargeant General(ly) Loud.
So, in answer to my concerned friend that I may get hurt by my expanding work to speak up – yes, I may, but since when is stretching not painful? On a personal level, I now refuse to spend any time with anyone over 30 who refuses to relate in a straightforward grown-ass manner. As Betty White would say, “Vagina up, man”. Seriously, she said that and she’s right, because as she explained, why would we tell anyone to ‘grow a pair’, when testicles are really quite fragile, especially in comparison to actual birth canals? Man, I love that woman! Anyway, maybe this’ll net me fewer conversations, but it gives back precious time and likely more real connection with people who genuinely possess virtue.
However – that’s not entirely the pain my friend is concerned with. But – I can speak with some fair firsthand authority now, to assure that the most painful hurt, is not harsh words or bruises, broken bones, CPR or even dying. Outside of losing loved ones, what hurts most, is indifference.
So, I’ll continue to ask, which of our success representations are truly so valuable that we couldn’t live without them? We don’t have to die to learn most of what we fear losing is really, not so much after all, but many do die because we refuse to look at the question.
We do everything we can for the safety and comfort of our loved ones, but will we extend that to include those who have suffered on any level for that comfort? If you don’t know who that is, please, please seek to learn; we need to look beyond our own small space in this great big world. Indifference is the poison that is instantly diluted by even the simplest act of compassion. Just do it. I know you want to.