Ever since Fierce Solidarity was published--only three weeks ago--I've been thinking of it as a beginning woman's book. My initiation into womanhood was unexpected motherhood. As I've said to many of the emerging women in my life, "It was exactly what I needed, but I wouldn't recommend it." Motherhood was absolutely my invitation to mindful living, though. It catapulted me toward what I wanted to be, and through it, I gave myself permission to learn the things I wanted to know; experience the things I wanted to experience.
In a way, Fierce is an invitation to all young women to embrace the power they have to create the life they want. As a young woman I felt limited in so many ways. Looking back, it's disheartening to realize that it was all in my head, or rather, in my thinking. Well-established systems of control, limiting ideas, fears, and trauma had all worked together to build a pervading sensation of inability and even hopelessness. They were not stronger than the messages of encouragement and empowerment I was also surrounded with; those messages did win in the long run. They gave me the audacity to face the things that were damming up my river. It took a solid decade.
Writing Fierce was a journey into the how of my experience. How exactly had I maneuvered through that early minefield of choosing a partner and emerging into womanhood? How could that transition have been made better if I had known then what I know how? Now that it's finished, I'm beginning to think a lot about the why again. Why do things happen the way they do? I'd thought this through a lot in the micro sense, for my own situation and through my own healing. But now, I'm looking at the thinking that was holding me back. It was much, much bigger than my personal situation. It was systematic. Sure, it was the micro-culture, but it was also the macro-culture.
It wasn't just me. And it wasn't just people like me.
That little truth has astounded me over and over. Every time I realize I'm not the only one I'm overwhelmed with relief and grief. What's really astounding, though, is being able to walk through life feeling so alone when we're surrounded by people.
It's not hard to see why. Throw a hot-button issue into a crowd and the wagons will be circled in their opposing corners in a jiffy with a war of ideas engulfing the middle--everyone shouting so loud they can't hear themselves think. If thinking is even a thing at a moment like that. In those moments the only value of the cultural togetherness is the swelling pseudo-power. The crowd dances to the beat of I'm right, I'm right, I'm right. And puts someone else in charge. Someone they can throw stones at later when things don't work the way they thought they would. Anyone that doesn't love the I'm right rhythm starts feeling freaked out by the crowd, and after the wave of rightness has passed, the participants have to dig their faith a little deeper into the cause to quell the insecurity that wells up. Nobody knows who is who when we're all thrown together out here in the world, so there's a lot of tiptoeing and courtesy. The louder of us have bumper stickers and t-shirts to clear things up a bit. But, connection?
Hmmm. . .
Who's gleaning the real benefits of the community, these days? Where is the big human system that works?
It could be argued that the system that works is everywhere. Little micro-systems. A community here, a family there. Leaders and teachers everywhere. They are everywhere doing their thing. Living for Goodness Sake. With the loudness of macro-dysfunction ringing in my ears, I forget all the time. The voice I'm supposed to be listening to is still and small as it ever was. It led me through the micro-questions. And it'll lead me through this.
So for the rest of the day, I will be listening hard and soft to the stillness. I will pay attention to the tiny things that are functional and good and helpful, even if I have to carry around a horde of magnifying glasses and otoscopes. I see goodness and pull it to the spotlight, just for today.
Anna Turner is the woman behind Little Hearth. She's an ordained interfaith minister, a writer, a believer in purposeful living and healing, a perpetual student, and a full time feminist mother.