Is to be caught between a rock and many hard places
This essay is depicting an experience of being a woman like ME which is almost entirely personal but to which I have asserted particular generalisations. I would like to note that these generalisations are not meant to be depictive of ALL woman’s experiences. I acknowledge that not all women ache to procreate and that this does not make them any less woman than another. To be a woman is to be creation itself in all its infinite forms. Enjoy.
Perched at the precipice of an era, a first in human experience; to be an educated free woman, is both liberating and like being caught between a rock and many hard unyielding places. On the one hand, we have the ability to seek greater expansive perspectives of the world, enabling us to see patterns of life, from where we have come from to where we are going. At the outset this is an amazing opportunity fo us to develop knowledge and perhaps even wisdom. However, upon this deep inspection the discover more and more about about the big picture, which has this inevitable effect of leaving us feeling hopeless, wretched, full of with self loathing and doubt about our future. With an educated eye it is easy to see, that humanity, aka ‘US’, have created a situation of carnage and consumption. On the way towards this almighty sapien hold up of the world, humans have become dependant upon a certain way of life that feeds the beast. One of the most obvious and powerful components of being a woman is that of being able to bring the new life into the world. This usually exciting prospect, today, is understandably fraught with anxiety for those of us who know and who dare to think about the state of the world and the future of humanity. To bring new life into this world, we accept the fact that we are essentially condemning the greatest loves of our lives to finding their way through this maze of escalating chaos. And yet on the other hand, the ancient biology of a a woman’s body still yearns to to do what it has been literally bleeding to do since the tender age of 11 years… As with all great dilemmas there are many sides the story. One may easily claim that having a child with the intention of bringing up an educated moral and ethical being is exactly what this world needs! Some may go so far as asserting that one would be selfish not to follow this path. But of course, we only have so much say on how a child will grow into an adult, and there is no guarantee that the little person will want to become an environmental earth warrior, activist or conscientious objector. On top of that, unless strong measures are taken, the sad reality is that our children may be swept up in the roaring frenzy of technological uprising and capitalistic normalcy and join the unconscious masses. And then what? Just another mouth to feed?
So where is the ‘right’ choice inside all of this?
The answers to this heart wrenching dilemma, are no where to be found. Choice is in constant flux with the waxing and waning between knowledge and biological callings. It seems we can either accept ourselves as part of a human species, and multiply forth as we have done since the beginning of time, or we can put a stop to this incessant consumption of the earth, by taking a stand in not having a baby and use every second of our own lives to stand up for change on this planet.
Birthing new life has become (or perhaps always was) a double edged sword. On the one hand, modern technology is destroying the next generation’s interpersonal skills and on the other hand, technology allows me the freedom as a single woman, to choose to have a child without a man. But, to devote every waking hour to childcare and financial accumulation for the purposes of maintaining the care of the child, and potentially compromise aspects of my own life, at least to the extent of what I can do with it, seems like a crazy choice down a difficult road without a solid reason - and yet, to argue with the wanting, wishing and resounding will of the womb is based on rationality and doesn’t stand a chance against emotionality of a 34 yrs woman. The truth is there really is no right answer; and this is only the beginning of what it means to be caught between a rock and many hard places!
Stay posted for part 2 on this paper.
Every woman has her own story to tell about the ebbs and flows of her menstrual cycle. Some suffer less, some suffer more than words could propose to express. For me well, i fall into the latter as many people in my life will already know. I’m going to try to describe what it feels like…There is an edge to everything. Soft sounds can ring harsh and easy tasks exasperate me. I misjudge corners and stub my toes. My mind becomes foggy and frazzled. I sound hostile. Patience levels start to plummet, eventually falling to somewhere below the zero line. I was never particularly patient with men, but the week before my period, if he interrupts me whilst I’m speaking, I will tell him how I am feeling very clearly. If he argues, clear becomes more assertive and if he gets defensive, well, he has just asked for the full expression of telling-it-like-it-is. Thats just the way it goes. I have tried to contain myself at these awkward moments, to avoid the ignorant male who cant see past his own reflection, but when a surging of fury born from multitudes of generations of silenced women comes beaming forth at the speed of light… I seem to be at the mercy of raging hormones.
Sadly, obviously, and at no fault of their own, most men (though I have never had a man turn to me with compassion and say, sorry for interrupting, I can see you are suffering right now maybe you are at that shitty stage of your cycle) have no conception of what it means to be a women. Hey, us women weren’t even taught about our cycles, and neither are the little girls being educated TODAY. There is zero education about The 4 Stage Cycle running through her body every single month, until menopause when the entire hormonal story changes into another extreme hormonal reality altogether. Needless to say, it is a hormonally hardcore situation to be a woman. My question is, why is it so easy to see, that nothing is for free in business, in life generally, but when it comes to gestating and rearing a human civilisation, this is supposedly a one sided offering? No guys, its not. It takes a lot of inner workings, chemical reactions and hormones to do this magical creation thing, and it costs us our sanity at times, can be agonisingly painful, and emotionally exhausting. On top of that, women are still expected to do everything men do to take care of ourselves and our lives and of course, the babies and children we have pushed out of our vaginas. We have 24hours of child care giving ON TOP of the bleeding, the shitty moods and it’s hard for most men to understand why a woman who gets frustrated, angry or assertive sometimes.
What are we going to do about this? Feels like we really need to rethink education. Firstly, I, as a woman, was never taught about my 4 stages in my cycle. When i started to bleed it was not really an event that we celebrated… it was hushed to save me from embarrassment as far as I can remember. Today I think that’s a bit sad and wish we had had a party.... I think boys should be taken aside at school when they are very young and taught exactly what's what, including the fact that women are super special because of all the hard work their bodies, mind and spirit does for this species, i.e. creating us from the inside out! That the most basic law of nature is that boys and men must respect them as if they are gods because that IS basically what they are.
For the last forever-as-we-know-it, women have been dealing with servitude, oppression, persecution, tyranny, endless abuse, imbalance of power, exploitation, subjugation, repression, suppression, enslavement, rape and murder the list goes on and this is the first time in history that we have the ability to actually BE ANGRY OUT LOUD. Halefuckingluja. Surprise! No, dont be surprised if we express ourselves loudly at times, because Its about time. To the men who still interrupt when she is expressing how she feels - please, Listen. There is so much to learn from women, and not only do we deserve your respect, but you owe it to the divine who is gracing you with expression of how she feels, for what you could never ever fully understand but only imagine, to hold your tongue and hold space. I know this all comes as a shock and feels like a knock to your 'masculinity' but there has been some confusion. Listening and holding space for a woman IS your masculinity in action. Dont even do it for yourself, do it for humanity.
We have a long way to go to bridge this gap between men and women. Yesterday I listened to a podcast about the times not so long ago when Dr’s aka men were trying to discover what the strange little knob above the vagina hole was, they where so confused as it clearly had nothing to do with making babies so why was it there? At one point they decided that the clitoris was an abnormal growth and some women where made to have it cut off! Then they started to explore why women would get so upset at time... Angry upset women were labelled as ‘hysterical’ and treatments where usually a ‘pelvic massage’ that resulted in an orgasm. No doubt this helped somewhat, but at no point in this exploration is there a record of men asking women how they where feeling... having so many demands placed on them and not being able to say how they felt... How did it get the the stage that men thought of women as unintelligent and incapable? After many years of thought, I have come to propose a theory that the general case of men hold an inherent insecurity that lies at the core of their oppressive behaviour - And how did that happen? There are very few things that are cross culturally relevant - and there are also a lot of layers of cellular memory and societal teachings to take into consideration - but most essentially, the thing that binds us all together in common, is that all women make the babies and bring them up as young children. This is a universal thing about humanity. And therefore, one specific thing has occurred for all men and it is this: at the point at which a baby boy realises it is separate from its mother, it is not simply another being like a baby girl is, who is a continuation of her mother who will (typically) automatically become a woman when she starts to bleed. For a boy, at the same time he realises he is seperate, he also realises that he is a completely different thing to his mother. The depth of his ‘what am i?” is mostly unconscious and results in the little boy needing much more guidance as to his role and place in the world. Traditionally this was always the way things played out with boys being guided and initiated into manhood via very specific rights of passage. Today, and historically in the west, this guidance and initiation into manhood has almost all but been eroded into the everyday plight of making money to buy things to live. Yes there are bar mitzvahs, but I would argue that the teachings of becoming a man are grossly lacking in reference to the necessary reverence for woman that is required to wholeheartedly realise that the mother EARTH and all the women on her is the ultimate gift he has been given to take care of. (Which means listening and learning from her wisdom!). I can see that such a deep rooted insecurity has both intensified and become hidden over the years, to the point where men today (not all but generally), have no idea why they are the way that they are. Threatened by the creator, the mother, because they are entirely confused about who they are and what their purpose is in this world. The more they oppress her the more confused they have become, and they have forgotten the reason behind this confusion: which is ultimately fear of the power of pure creation itself. When a woman expresses herself, when she roars, when she is angry, when she says, writes, or yells how she is feeling - this is the power of pure creation itself, and apparently its the most threatening thing in the world. Just as Llith was when she said “No, I will not lie beneath you” and was consequently banished from the garden of Eden - * Alphabet of ben Sirach (c. 700–1000 CE)
In my wildest imagination, an appropriate and effective ceremony for boys when they have come of age would be to be guided into a large multi layered circle of women from the community, to stand in a small circle mapped out for him in the very centre of all the layers of women, young old and in between, as they slowly walk in a circle, allowing him to see all of their faces and feel all of their strong sacred energy. No smiles of comfort given, no looks of judgement. Only pure love from their hearts met with what I can only imagine would be pure fear of a young boy, would be the magic of this initiation. A lesson of reverence, about what it means to be with the grace of a woman, to know how powerful women are is what it takes for a man to truly know what he IS as a man. A sacred protector in reverent service. For if he knows this in every cell of his body, over time, I think that the rage would begin to quell, and the healing would be profound.
Truthfully, If I could do exactly what is best for me the week before my period, (yes - The whole fucking week). I would stock up on food, lock myself up in my house (or a red tent), turn off my phone, cut the internet connection, and paint, write, do yoga and meditate all day every day. This would be best for me and quite possibly the whole world. Inshallah that is exactly what I am creating... in the meantime I apologise to anyone who has found themselves in the line of fire this week! PMS and grief is a deadly combo...! Forgiving myself, and getting ready for my monthly ritual of shedding releasing and surrendering to the flow of pain and pleasure and all that IS.
There comes a time in life where we realise that This Is It. Such a thought comes in waves… at times a gentle caressing reminder, and at others, a total ass whipping. This is it. And though it may be that we are born again and again and again, from a deathbed to delivery bed, out one story and into another, the fact of the matter is, we still only ever have this moment to experience ourselves as a living breathing self conscious human. ‘This is it’ is a NOW thing. An absolute all encompassing realisation that what has been and what will be has absolutely nothing to do with anything anymore because life is swooping by and our momentum to realise what we are is but a crawl… Time, whatever that actually is, isn’t waiting for us to figure this out. Instead of grabbing our own shoulders and shaking the shit out of our fearful bewildered bodily beings, we find ourselves seized by paralysis , making a million reasons why life didn’t go the way it should have. The way we wanted it to. We pick up yet another self help book that declares the ways to grow and conquer - we read half of it, feel demeaned by the authors seeming greatness, skip to a TEDx talk on how to get on with life, get distracted by an ad that reminds us of something else we need in order to be whole - and then feel hungry again. Hungry for another fix, to ease the pain of not being able to feel ourselves, our bodies, our lives, right now in the here and now. A cigarette will do - Or maybe a meditation. We all have our own ways of escaping. We are all holding on in our own ways, to our stories, our sadness, our rightness, our methods.. Those of us without children desperately trying to find meaning for our existence before we die. Demanding a legacy of ourselves so that we can feel we contributed to humanity somehow, because, wasn’t that the point? Or is it simply our ego challenging us to be still? As we spend our lives trying to be remembered after we die, we simultaneously ignore the reality of our mortality as we meander down the path of life’s everydayness. Trivial worries and concerns guide us down the path yesterdays tomorrow - leading us nowhere but closer to the inevitable moment of loss - when we least expect it, the people we love most in the world, will die, and we will be faced with a whole new entourage of This. Is. It.
Sometimes the urgency of this realisation lifts us up, and sometimes it breaks us down. Seeking the point only leads one down the rabbit hole, and living a life for no particular reason at all etches question marks upon all ‘worthy’ endeavours, despite the fact that the gift of life is already staring us down the barrel of existence. We are alive NOW. What to do? where to go? when to change it up, and what does it matter if everything will simply turn to dust? If it weren’t for the depth of lessons and bridges of being that lead our species on in the quest for meaning, we could pretty much skip life altogether - and yet here we are. Making our way through as we have for millions of years, trying to understand the rhyme and reason for our existence. Comparing grandiosity with presence, balancing survival with a life well lived. Women torn in two, whether giving birth, or childless; for the yearning of the body to give birth is met with a painful reality, a questioning of whether it is even the right thing to do to bring another human into this deeply fuct up world. Torn, when body meets mind and tries to make sense of it all - tries to understand what is the best, right, and true way to live this one and only life that we get to experience right now until we die. Hidden behind banners and mottos of positivity and power is a deep seated fear of life’s inevitable tragedy - presence disguised by pretty parades of people speaking up for their rights, the same people who so easily deny their authentic selves during the most intimate conversations with trusted companions - What is real in this game of life?
Sometimes life sweeps you off your feet and it seems like all the decisions of what to do and where to go have been obvious, and sometimes we are left standing at the fork, fighting the indecision of which way to go and what to create. Sometimes we feel lucky and sometimes we feel cursed. Mostly it just depends on how we look at it . Always best to take responsibility for the weird and wacky random synchronicity of divine timing. In other words, it really doesn’t matter - seize the day and choose a way. OR, just take on the challenge and sit in stillness until the waters part and the path is revealed. When in doubt do nothing, close your eyes, sense the body that houses the answers, and wait… wait for the dust of millions of lives lived to settle upon the yellow brick road of destiny, let us be walked home to ourselves, to our lives right here right now. Back to the inevitable realisation that there is no where to go, nothing to be. Because This. Is. it. To BE the infinite expanse of time is to LIVE, because life ain't waiting for us to figure it out. Breath, Choose, release. Breath. Choose release. This is the game. There is no right. Just here and now, choices made and choices to make, this is a life lived. And then we fly on… every time. Death awaits us, in every friend that we meet, in every heart we hear beat and in every love shared - death beckons us to live in ways we never dreamt of. To live as if we are alive, for only a very short time. Because really - thats all there is.
There comes a time in life when we hear the sound of our story being wound up inside our heart, like a music box, the handle starts to turn slower and we can hear each and every note.. and if we choose, we can hum along in our broken beautiful scratchy worn and weary voice. This is the moment when we hear the beat of our own heart, because we have finally realised that one day, this pumping organ will stop and we wont have ears to listen anymore. This is a game of forgetting who we are, to remember who we are. The game is on, and there are no winners. Death awaits us and THIS IS IT The rules to the game? Grab your shoulders like they are dice and throw yourself off the abyss of creation! let go, love and play with all your heart because there really is nothing to lose. Before we know it, this game is over and another round will be beginning, again as a tiny unknowing dependant baby screaming for that which has all but been forgotten....
17 years world traveller, internationally recognised award winning body painter with a background in Anthropology, Orly delves deep into the enquiry of what it means to be a human being and ceaselessly expresses her art whilst following her heart. , Specialising in mimitism (camouflage), Orly's current expressions are a moving living creative and expansive entity that represents her passion for re-merging humanity with the earth from which we came, sustainable conscious living, healing the sacred feminine as we learn to respect our mother earth and advocacy for balancing commercial gain with global and local contributions.