22 February 2010

making space

I have made some space... between my ears! I can barely put two words together today, man! Duhhh.... not eating (as much as you usually do) really turns one into a numyut. Numbyut? This is a word, I know it is. I just searched it to make sure it didn't have some kind of really offensive roots... Google didn't even offer me any alternatives. How else could you spell it? Anyway. Space. Cadet.

So this Saturday I'm organizing a Gathering of Women at the Lily Pad in Cambridge, the same lovely performance space where we celebrated me doubling in size to accommodate the incubation of a new human. I still think the party should have happened once she was OUT, but whatever. People want to gather 'round and gawk at the fat lady. Fine.

I have no agenda for this Gathering, beyond opening up a space and time for many women to be in the same place with one another. We can meet one another, talk about woman-y things, eat good food, listen to good music, and perhaps support one another in the expression of art. I have been giving some thought to the way that I will address everyone at some point (part of The Year of the Authenic Voice, phase III). I have a few different things that I really want to say. I will write them, maybe if you're reading this, you respond to me with preferences:

Thoughts 1 and 1a

I've been thinking about the idea of woman as a Vessel for Bringing Forth. This is an idea that at first I found I resented quite a bit. I feel like the idea of woman as vessel is one that invalidates the woman in favor of that which is brought forth. I know I definitely felt that way as a pregnant woman - I have much to say about what I can only call Pregnant Women's Oppression and may leave it for another time or it may sneak out now. But the more I got to thinking about it and remembering the Lao Tzu quote about the beauty of a vessel being not so much about the vessel itself but about the space that is created within it - to hold anything, anything at all - I found myself softening to the idea. How brilliant to be One Who Contains, how honored would I be to be One Who Protects and One Who Pours. There is something missing in the metaphor about the origination of these things (someone puts something into a vessel) but I suppose you can go straight to the divine as the inspiration. I'm not getting into sewing seeds or fertilizing or whatever. Keeping the focus on the woman, because it's not just babies. Ideas, art, expression, love, blah blah blah the ability to hold space and _____. The fragility inherent in being not hollow but full of potential. The gesture of issuing forth whatever has been contained, safely, for an amount of time - the risk that it implies, the vulnerability, the fear, the separation, the eventual absence, the bittersweet feeling of loss coupled with the potential for something new. All of this speaks to the volume (pun intended) of embodying the vessel.

And building on that, how I felt when I first learned that I was going to give birth to a baby girl. We had all wanted a boy (Ayano, Taina, and I, that is) on whatever level one "wants" a baby to be male or female. Ayano did not want to find out the gender; I did. While in the ultrasound room I asked the tech not to say whether she could tell if the baby was male or female in order to protect Ayano's ears. She rolled her eyes in a "yeah right as if you won't tell him" kind of way. Eventually, through no prompting of my own (I even tried to discourage him from wanting to know) he asked to know the gender with me. A girl! We both said, "Oh." I think Ayano said something to the effect of "That's just about right." I didn't say anything for the rest of the ultrasound. Ten fingers, ten toes, every bone in hand and foot and spine and face... I could even see the little slope of her nose and the pucker of her lips in profile and thought she looked like her sister even then.

We got to the car and I cried. I didn't know why I was crying. I know for a fact that I am not the only mom to have cried after the 18-week ultrasound, so for those of you who are surprised or feeling like "she should be grateful her baby was healthy" you're right, I was grateful for that. And I cried. That's the whole cheap "vessel" idea that I hate. "Well, you have a healthy baby, so..." Shut up! Are you kidding!? Just because my body brought forth a healthy baby doesn't mean that I'm not allowed to feel all of the feelings that come with being a pregnant woman in the world and believe me there are ALOT. So yes, I have a healthy baby. AND I am still a person with feelings and I'm allowed to feel them (woops, I guess the rant slipped out, but it's just the beginning). So as I was crying I was trying to figure out why I was crying. What made me sad. It wasn't that I thought I wouldn't love her, it wasn't that I thought I didn't actually want her as a girl, I wasn't afraid to bring a girl into this mean world... what was it? Eventually, it came to me that somewhere, on some level, I thought I was disappointing someone. Who?! I have no idea. But on some level I figured out that it was lodged in my brain: girls are a disappointment. Wow! What a load of manure! I'm glad I got to the root of that one so I could move through it. It is a huge and beautiful challenge for me to be raising a daughter. Someone for whom I not only have to model what it looks like to be a strong, self-actualized, curious, loving woman in the world, but of whom I also get to take care and witness her making her own way in the world. I love that child in a cosmic way, no surprise. I am proud that she's a girl. I'm proud that I'm her mother. I am rapt by her every day and am looking forward to the strength she will carry with her into her future.

Thought 2

We as women have GOT to stop making assumptions. Period. It is what drives us apart from one another on a deep and unnecessary level. All people make assumptions in certain ways. And here I go on my generalizations but I don't care... it seems like women are better at concocting elaborate stories in their minds based on precious little information. These stories, unfortunately, are not about their own potential, their future, the wonderful things that they might do, or the way in which they are challenging themselves. Sometimes they are, yes. And yet a great deal of time is devoted (a great deal) to thoughts, conversations, and all-out brawls around assumptions made based on a shred of information. A whisper of fact, a breath, a speck, an iota of truth, a grain of a hint of a shade of hearsay. I don't have to go into much detail about how it works, because you know how it works. Ridiculous things happen as a result of assumptions. And the real harm comes when people just will not let them go. Will hold on so tightly to what they believe is true, even if it is not true! This comes up in Buddhism with the story of the man in the boat (not that man in that boat, though I guess it is a Gathering of Women), in The Four Agreements and in a number of many different and older iterations. It is something over which we have control, but we have been socialized out of it. People find stories, gossip, and the feelings stirred up by these assumptions to be of far more interest than giving the benefit of the doubt. As women especially we owe it to one another. I know that if I have been confused by some information in the past I have taken it to the woman in question and asked. Does this happen all of the time for me? Hell to the no. Do I try to be courageous and ask the woman some questions so I have all of the information so I may act accordingly? I do. Even when it doesn't seem "appropriate" to do so, like the times when I've been confused about another woman's friendship with the man I am in a relationship with at the time. Instead of just hating the woman outright and forbidding the man from seeing her again (which is ridiculous... I've been on the other side of that, the 'woman forbidden for no good reason', and it is extremely and unnecessarily painful), I ask. The man doesn't always love this, but it is important to me to have the "Hey, I'm a woman, you're a woman, I'm confused about something, could you please explain it to me?" conversation. By and large I've been met with not only pleasant surprise, but the kind of conversation that then forges an alliance where there was none. If the woman is shady and moving in, then there are two people to reckon with (three if you count yourself). And again, I apologize for my current heterocentrism, but that's all I've got to speak on (but I'm still young...). Could you imagine? It could be like that Toni Braxton video...

What it comes down to is working with the deficiency in self-worth that makes someone dream up these terrible scenarios and feel some kind of stimulation or validation by the idea of being the victim. It also means working with fear of admitting one's ignorance (being right versus being honest) and the fear of what you might find out by asking questions. It's difficult to ask a question to begin with, because asking questions reveals vulnerability. Not to mention the fact that gossip could be an Olympic sport right after ice dancing (what the hell??) and it takes courage not to participate. It's one thing to talk about how you feel, it's quite another to engage someone in a wild joyride of speculation, criticism, judgment, and eventual alientation. It's a practice, it's not something that anyone can just turn off overnight, but it is something that we as a group could put attention to and prioritize in order to be open to future alliances. Lord knows we need 'em.

Not bad for someone operating on 14% brain power.

1 comment:

  1. beautiful. insightful, inspired, eloquently presented and to the freaking point. love it. it's the kind of information that all people should read (don't think you get off so easily fellow hombres) but thank you for directing it to the ladies in your own voice, in your own way, and what a way to start the saturday conversation early...and to think you were actually worried about this speaking out thing - i smell a hustle (jk! smooches!)