Even though much of my work is literally TOO BIG FOR WORDS, occasionally I am inspired to write, and this is the place for that. Feel free to join in the conversation. Thanks for reading.
An image of a tsunami-sized wave has been appearing in my consciousness over the past year. Some days it feels like a drowning downturn of sadness and overwhelm eager to swallow me up. Yesterday it felt like a powerful uplifting swell as it embodied us to gather and march the streets of Chicago. Even more people, even more energy, even more of the Beloved Community was on display than in 2017. Last year the theme was Wake Up; this year it was Stay Woke. This morning I woke up, intentionally replaying the felt sense of yesterday’s movement so that I can hold onto and expand it for days to come.
You’ve seen pictures, heard stories or made your own if you marched. Because this experience is so extraordinary, I want to try to paint the picture of the tsunami-sized energy of the collective as we gathered. From my perspective, here’s what happens. For weeks before, we prepare—physically (gathering chapstick, hand warmers, water, snacks and mass transit cards) and also soulfully. It takes quite a bit of reflection to dig deep and choose the one issue that is most deserving of being presented for all the world to see. And the competition is fierce. The creativity on display is unlike anything I’ve witnessed before: Each handmade beautiful sign reflecting the unique, passionate perspective of her creator. What matters most in this moment? What one thing would change everything? Especially at a time when there are so many issues; “too many for one poster board” as some reflected. This year, I chose #metoo, quoting the end of Oprah’s recent Golden Globes’ speech: “Take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, “Me, too" again!” I imagine what a world would be like where men weren’t repeatedly wounding women.
The next step is to decide who to go with, as this is a collective, community-enriching event. It would be hard to just show up as an individual. I love to cast a wide open invitation and allow myself to be surprised by who says YES! I am lucky to live in a community of wonderful women whose YES comes with so much fabulous fun!! Physical needs, poster and peeps prepared, now it’s time to maneuver the masses to discover where to stand. I prefer a sunny spot on the edge of the crowd, where I can see and hear the speakers and also make an exit as needed. We each have our own preferences. Together we come to a consensus and choose our place. The numbers of really young and really old people who come out impress me!
The atmosphere is unique at the Women’s March. People are festive and focused, elated and overwhelmed after a year of activism, individually expressing themselves and eager to chant in unison and move together. We begin to breathe together, to become co-conspirators in this world-changing work. Group mind takes over instantly as we become a WE. An amazing openhearted generosity is displayed through sharing of space, snacks and stories. People literally hand you oranges, wipes, and hugs. There are no strangers here. I imagine this is what it was like to witness the miracle of the loaves and the fishes—realizing that there is enough for everyone. There is no judgment here, no arguing, no debates, only openhearted curiosity and inclusion. We are hungry to capture the experience with photos and new friends. I always learn about another perspective in this space. I meet people who don’t look like me and together we stand under an enormously inclusive and wide-open umbrella of care and concern. WE become ONE.
There is no other place or time when I stop people I don’t know and ask to take pictures of them with their signs, capturing others’ unique perspectives, here equally as valuable as my own. Curious to learn why each other came, our views and values are diverse and deep, we connect. Together we uplift and celebrate all the flavors of being human, except hate and fear are not present here. Prayers and poems and songs and speeches shared, now we march. This, too, is an experience we do not do on an ordinary weekday: today, we flow into the streets, without knowing where we are going or who is leading us, not worrying about traffic or texting, unafraid of the unknown human being walking so close you can feel their breath. We chant, we cheer, raising signs and voices, connecting in an experience beyond the limits of labels, time, space or everyday concerns. And then out of nowhere, a loud, loving “WOO WAVE" suddenly washes over us and I can’t tell whether my feet are even touching the street below. I am carried by the crowd.
There is no shopping only sharing, no conflict only caring. There are people of all sizes, ages, shapes and experiences in this crowd of 300,000+ caring human beings dreaming into a better tomorrow. The helicopters and drones circling overhead see us to count us as individuals, but they have no idea about what we share that moves among us: a wave of heartful humanness I want to find a way to expand into every moment. I deeply desire that these moments become a movement of tsunami proportion so that LOVE trumps the HATE that risks deeply dividing us into isolated, lonely, fearful, self-concerned individuals who forget that THIS is what it is to be human. We are an integral part of a vast web intimately interconnected.
The TRUTH has been turned upside down since the hurricane hit our White House. The TRUTH is in the movement of the MARCH...when we come together to create the Beloved Community. WE are the people to make this dream a reality. WE can become this more often than these few moments. NOW is our time.