I’ve been pushing against something really hard lately – some little bit of understanding I’ve been picking away at, trying to figure out what’s going on behind my head and why I’ve felt a little off kilter for the past few months. I’ve been pushing myself to make peace with how hard I’ve been pushing at the world, to accept that this is how I am. I’ve been pushing my friends – to start businesses growing shiitake mushrooms and brewing kombucha, to leave their bad boyfriends, to leave their office jobs and become foragers – and making new friends because I’ve been so open-mouthed and loud about everything. I don’t think I’ve lost my quiet spaces, I don’t think I’ve become irritating, but I have been ramping up my little campaign to tidy and fix everything up, and maybe that’s how I’m always going to be.
I had a conversation with a friend tonight about the whole blog thing. Strangely, I have been thinking about the blog a lot and have already made friends with it, much faster than I thought I would. I keep thinking of lovely little tidbits I want to share about what I’ve been reading, eating, planting, thinking about. Is this egotistical? And if yes, is that a bad thing?
At tonight’s Green Party meeting, I looked around and asked myself why I wasn’t more active in the group. I take the minutes. I like this job. I am still learning about my community, and don’t yet feel ready to run for office (the hot topic tonight was that Green Party people are running for mayor and school board), and taking the minutes allows me to pay better attention and learn what’s happening. But it’s also because I am not at a point were I feel that traditional political activism (i.e. running for office) is really what I should be doing. Being a public figure means trying to mute your more outlandish opinions and get on everyone’s good sides, and I currently have the desire to do just the opposite.
But I feel a great bursting need to share what I am learning about being a political, passionate, creative person in this universe with my fellow political passionate creative people.
What I told my friend, and the more I talked about it the more it took on the ring of truth, is that even though it sounds treacly and trite, what I really enjoy right now is pushing myself to live the very best way possible – on every level. I want my life to be the most perfect outward expression of my inward passions and beliefs. Theoretically everyone wants this. Your external life should reflect your insides. But doesn’t it rarely happen?
I care about every fucking thing. That’s why I never stop talking. Not only do I want to read the best books, sleep under the best organic cotton sheets, paint my house with the best 0 VOC paint, but I want stupid things like like my clothes to be the absolute best clothes I can possibly wear – the absolute representation of my personal style, at every moment. (Luckily, my personal style involves a lot of Salvation Army binges). I don’t want even one item in my house to have been made in a sweatshop – and even though this is impossible, it still drives me crazy. I will do almost anything to find a better source for something I need to buy – a vegetarian-run business, a local source for something I’ve been importing, whatever. I constantly weigh the options, trying to decide what’s best. My entire life is built on the principle that there are absolute rights and wrongs, and I have thrown my lot in with what is right and just and good and clean. (This sounds just sickeningly, vomitously, virtuous, but for tonight I’m going to let it slide).
What’s the purpose of living if even the smallest, tiniest, most minuscule, stupid, inconsequential thing isn’t exactly what you want it to be?
What it comes down to is: everything matters.
A Howard Zinn quote has been in my head all the time lately: “We don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an endless succession of presents, and to live now as we think humans should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
A few years ago, when I dropped out of society for reals and realized I could make money on my own, I seriously committed myself to the idea of “no compromises.” Obviously I make a lot of compromises, but I’m always moving that tiny bit toward living perfectly in line with how I think things should be.
Most politicians and activists I know disagree with this – they say that you can’t do everything at once, that you need to give a little to get a little. For whatever reason, I’ve decided that my life will be the one that won’t do that. I admire those activists and politicians who have made compromises in the name of something greater, who have weighed the options and realized that they can accomplish more if they just play the game a little bit – I was one of those people for about 8 years. We really, really need them.
But there is also a space for people like the current me – people who commit themselves to holding our collective feet to the fire, in the most kind yet loudmouthed way.
These ideals are what I want to keep in mind with this silly little blog. I want it to be the story of a women trying to live in the world with a heart and a brain, with eyes wide open.
I am very much aware of how women seem usually to be the ones most concerned with and able to understand ideas like this. The idea of keeping things at the personal level, of going inward instead of outward, has been connected with women for centuries. And instead of telling myself that this is regressive and I should stuff myself into a power suit and run for office, I’m going to make the case that there is nothing wrong with the worlds women have occupied for centuries – the problem has been that they have been undervalued. Focusing on one’s personal life and the ways it can be used as a political weapon is a way to bring new status to the devalued “second class” world of women’s concerns. Instead of women becoming CEOs and never cooking dinner, I want a world where women and men cook dinner together. (And it takes them 4 hours, because they are making an honest meal.)
It is of course all connected to the second wavey feminist principle that “the personal is political.” That’s pretty much what “resistance is fertile” means to me – when we look at our personal lives as a political tool, new worlds open up to us, new ways of being. When we resist the parts of society we find dead, soul-crushing, unsustainable, the air becomes fertile with new buds of promise.