Friday, December 6, 2013

The Wild, Rebel Heart

As I descended the stairs into a sea of crisp black blazers and pencil skirts, fresh blowouts and french tips, it immediately became apparent that I was out of place. You know when it feels like everyone is watching you enter a room? In this case, everyone was. It was something like America's Next Top Model, a sorority rush and free diving with great whites...all at once. However, I smiled wide and laughed in my head at all the beautiful, scowling, full faces of makeup. I reasoned that amid all the black, it would be to my advantage to be in blue and cream stripes. Heck, I barely remembered to shave my legs! I'm a stylish individual and I will stand out!

When we entered the conference room, I realized how flawed my logic had been. The woman leading the open call was in the same uniform as all the other contestants. I naturally immediately suspected a conspiracy, then realized a simple truth: I've been wearing yoga pants to work for a very long time. Even when I worked in an office, my personal style was Kindergarten Librarian Chic. I rocked a knee length skirt with tiny kittens on it on the reg. Business attire is not my forte. This is not a job I will be getting.

By the time I reached my senior year of high school, the bulk of my core community had already graduated, so I became involved in multiple clubs and choirs to fill the time. When I had a free lunch period, I could be found in the library reading Girl, Interrupted or Backlash, writing angsty poetry and listening to mix CDs heavily influenced by riot grrrls. My spinster Honors English teacher referred to me as one of her "bright, sensitive girls." Being bright and sensitive in high school is fine if it's buried under more enticing qualities to teenagers, but that was all I had to work with at the time...smarts, sensitivity, mild depression and anxiety, and awkwardness, especially in my body.

My favorite teacher ever, also from the English department, promised me that it would be different when I got to college, and she was largely correct. I've always had a good radar for girls like me- the bright, sensitive ones who forget to shave their legs- but in college I suddenly had a huge tribe. We hung out for hours in the dining hall laughing and stealing handfuls of cookies, learned to knit in a snark laden club called "Stitch and Bitch," stayed up late telling secrets and stories, and watched The L Word and decided we were lesbians...or maybe not...or maaaayyyyyyyybbee. San Francisco, the mecca of tolerance and free expression, welcomed me like a long lost child. I was finally home.

The world at large is not an easy place to be on the fringe, though, but it is getting easier in many ways. The planetary consciousness is shifting rapidly to include a knowledge and embrace of "alternative" and holistic healing methods, universal human rights, environmental activism, political transparency and economic equality. There is so much beautiful, revolutionary, authentic work being done in the world, so much light being spread.

Yet amidst this is a sometimes violent and sickening backlash against these gains in human dignity and awareness. Of course, this is the hallmark of any true revolution. There will always be push back from those who benefit from the maintenance of the status quo. People on the whole are very much afraid of change and, as Osho has to say about Rebels, "people are afraid, very much afraid of those who know themselves. They have a certain power, a certain aura and a certain magnetism, a charisma that can take out alive, young people from the traditional imprisonment...The enlightened man cannot be enslaved - that is the difficulty - and he cannot be imprisoned...Every genius who has known something of the inner is bound to be a little difficult to be absorbed; he is going to be an upsetting force."

Before I continue, I'd like to preface the following by saying that I like getting my nails done and I neglect shaving my legs not out of militant feminist principle but laziness. Women spend entirely too much time tearing each other apart, a separate issue I could talk about forever. I don't seek to shame anyone for having different interests and priorities. I respect where everyone is on their journey. Namaste, y'all. That being said...

This is the time to be an upsetting force. This is the time to be bright stripes in a room full of black suits. The very survival of our planet requires that we question the false truths that we've been indoctrinated to believe and agree with. The foundation we built with these agreements is crumbling. We cannot continue to live as we always have and expect anything to change, and make no mistake, change is very much necessary. Since all sustainable change begins within, it's time, above all else, for some deeply honest, fearless self-inquiry. We must get very real.

What is working well?
What is not working well?
What requires adjustment? And how?
What needs to be disposed of entirely?
What is energizing and brings me joy?
What is weighty and regressive?

For everyone who has ever felt like a misfit or an outcast, rejoice! Our time has come. The tide is turning. Our unique perspectives and alternative approaches are needed. This time of reevaluation and adjustment presents us with the opportunity to make our world more inclusive and loving. The misfits intimately understand the agony of feeling out of place. Let's make our world a place where everyone belongs, just as they are. Not everyone could or should be alike. Variety is just as important to our human eco system as it is to the realms of flora and fauna. There is truly space for all kinds, and it takes all kinds to make it work.

The time has come to shine our wild, rebel hearts...
or rather, to discover what is preventing us from doing so
and burning that up with the light of our own brilliant truth.

Burn it up. Shine that brilliant, wild, rebel heart.

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