We Are All Like Diamonds

Heirloom ring, diamond & white gold.

Heirloom ring, diamond & white gold. Canon Rebel XS. Taken 1/19/2014. (Also appears on my Flickr account.)

Yesterday, something occurred to me. I promptly shared it to Facebook and Twitter, but I’ve been thinking about it since, expanding upon it.

We are all like diamonds: Some of us are polished, some in the rough, all shaped by our upbringings and experiences, multifaceted, and beautiful and valuable despite our imperfections.

I know. Depending on where you are, that can fly directly in the face of dominant cultural narratives. The dominant narratives where I’m from, in the United States, frequently revolve around one’s worth being measured by things like socioeconomic status, ethnic/racial background, nation of origin, gender/gender expression, marital status, sexual orientation, age, and appearance. (Appearance as a measure of worth is not limited to just us ladies. A lot of media directed at men has adopted a standard the majority can’t achieve.)

The thing is, these narratives were sold to us (via various forms of media, advertising, and cultural and political discourse), but we don’t have to buy into them.

We do not have to believe that a person’s worth as a human being is determined by their employment status or how much money they have in their bank account. Sometimes intelligence, education, and ambition have nothing to do with it, no matter where that person falls on the socioeconomic spectrum. We do not know everyone’s story, or their circumstances. We have not had to live their lives.

We do not have to believe that the color of a person’s skin or where they were born or their ethnic identity defines the content of their character.

We do not have to objectify, rape, or abuse women, or value their contributions to work and society less than those of men.

We do not have to deny equality to or threaten the livelihood or safety of members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

We do not have to believe that once someone reaches a certain age they are automatically impaired in performing certain tasks, or that they and their knowledge, experience, and wisdom are without value.

We do not have to believe that there’s something wrong with people who are not married, even if they don’t ever want to get married.

We do not have to believe that a person’s appearance determines how worthy they are of love or respect, or even employment.

There are lots of things we do not have to believe. The point is, we have a choice about what to believe about who we are as individuals, who we are collectively, and what we should value. We can choose to let go of the popular labels and measures of worth.

Here is what I believe, in my heart of hearts (even when I get frustrated with or irritated or hurt by people and, in the heat of the moment, don’t always perfectly embody it):

We are all here, alive, souls inside human bodies, expressed mixtures of our inner darkness and light, each with our own passions and dreams, hopes and fears, strengths and weaknesses, failures and successes, wisdom and opportunities for learning and growth, all deserving of kindness, love, respect, and grace.

We are all multifaceted.

We are all beautiful and valuable.

We all matter.

Time to Emerge and Step Into the Light

Purple crocus.

Purple Crocus. Taken 3/12/2015. Canon Rebel XS.

Spring is just a few days away now. Can you feel it? I do, things stirring beneath the surface as nature comes out of hibernation and into its yearly cycle of rebirth, the return of warmer temperatures, a few more minutes of light every day, pushing back the darkness. The first of our crocuses bloomed last week after one of the worst stretches–maybe the worst stretch–of winter weather we’ve ever had.

Similarly, over the past few months I’ve felt like I’m emerging from a long, hard Winter of the soul. Now it’s time to break the surface, to send out tender, green shoots, to leaf and bud and bloom. It’s time to see and be seen, to leave the dark womb of the earth and turn my face to the light.

It’s no coincidence that my word for 2015, when it found me in December, turned out to be “Light.”

In January, I reminded myself to look for the light, to reframe what I would normally find discouraging. Not that I was perfect about doing this, mind you, but building a new, positive habit in the place of an old, negative one takes time, patience, self-forgiveness and willingness to try, try again.

In February, I found myself in a situation that I could either try to fight, or to which I could surrender. I spent a couple of days internally warring with myself, and then asked, “What would make me feel lighter?” The answer? Surrender. So I did. You know what happened? The situation resolved itself a few days ago, and turned out just as I had hoped.  With the fight taken out of it, however, the time in the in-between was much more peaceful.

This month seems to be about stepping into the light and radiating it outward. I’ve been looking for conventional employment after some time away to pursue other interests (writing and photography, chiefly, which has been personally and artistically rewarding, but not monetarily so). I will continue to do so, and when I get discouraged and everything feels heavy, I will ask myself, “What would make me feel lighter?” I will tell myself that being a light attracts good things (it really does), and if the doors aren’t opening, it’s because those aren’t my doors. (And, undoubtedly, I will have days of doubt and darkness. This is normal and okay as long as I don’t dwell there too long. Light, to me, encompasses gentleness and compassion, too.)

Then, there is writing. Last August, I shared a prose poem I’d written called “To Write Brave,” and after posting one poem in September, I haven’t really lived up to that. It’s time.  It’s time to start putting some of my writing out there, and to start writing the things that have been hanging around the back of my mind, nudging me periodically, but have brought up internal, fear-based objections. You know the ones. The “oh-what-will-people-think-of-me-if-I-write-THAT?!” one, and, of course, the “I-don’t-know-if-I’m-good-enough-to-do-it-justice” one. This is the first step, writing the occasional blog post.

There are also two literary journal deadlines coming up in May for which I have over a month to prepare, one being a contest for emerging writers that holds the possibility of a $1,000.00 prize in addition to publication, and three categories (poetry, fiction, and nonfiction). This is perfect timing, because some of those ideas hanging around in the back of my mind–the ones I’m scared to write–are for short stories, stories that could shine a light on some things that are important to me and some of the people I know. Getting published at all, never mind the contest, is a long shot, but I have to try. There will never be a better time, whether that means collecting rejections, firing things off into the void and receiving no response at all, or getting published. There will never be a better time.

Across the board, it’s time for me to step into the light and shine to the best of my ability, then let The Divine That Which Is Bigger Than Me take care of the rest. This is what’s Spring is stirring in me. What is Spring stirring in you?

To Write Brave

Writing.

Writing. Taken 1/22/2014. Canon Rebel XS.

I want to write brave, but I’m afraid of what they’ll think. I am afraid they will not consider artistic license, will just assume that it’s all true. (But, of course, in a way, it is all true. Even if it didn’t happen in this time on this plane, it is true under the skin where it counts. The words had to come from somewhere.) I am afraid, because approval is currency, and they say you can’t afford to lose any currency these days.

So I think about writing under another name, but it doesn’t smell as sweet. It doesn’t feel like me. My name does. In Hebrew it means “tie or bond,” or, in some translations, “tied or bound.” My parents gave me a Hebrew name plucked from the Bible because Dad thought it would make me a good their-kind-of-Christian. (I am not. I have long dwelt in the house of quiet rebellion.) I so often feel tied, bound…Bound to a mask that never fits right and doesn’t quite fool anyone, though they’re not sure what I’m hiding. (Sometimes, even I am not quite sure what I’m hiding.)

I want to write brave, to lay the words out in rows, sometimes bolded, IN ALL CAPS. I want the words to throw the shutters open, let in the sun’s rays. I want to write it all under my true, full name. I know that I am not alone in anything the words may say, that somewhere there is someone who has lived and feels and thinks the same way, and if I let the words out into the wider world to play we will feel less alone. We may even feel at home, like kin sitting on an antebellum porch, trading stories and laughing at the end of the day.

But, right now, I am only a little brave.