I’ve been trying to recognize patterns and habits in my life and change them for the past four years or so. History repeats itself, so they say, and I have been bound and determined to make sure my negative tendencies and choices are replaced with healthful ones.
Break the circle, so to speak. And so far, it’s been a pretty successful endeavor, if I do say so myself.
So why is it, that as I stand on the precipice of a birthday, a prime number age at that, I realize I just walked into one of the oldest patterns in the book?
My past lives are screaming at me, “My mother was a slave to a man!” “My father served a man until he died!!” “My family were slaves to man!!!” as they watch me gleefully dance into a job serving … the Catholic church. This isn’t the man, the government. This is The Man: The Establishment.
Nevermind that I had to get a job quickly because of a desperate situation. The strange thing is that this didn’t even occur to me. I can’t even confess to being seduced by money because I accepted the job before I even knew my salary.
All I can say is that this happened because it was an abstract concept to me: the Church. Maybe it’s because I don’t really know any devout Catholics that I just assumed there weren’t any. Foolish, shortsighted Rebecca.
Now I work with nuns.
Hindsight is truly 20/20.
As anyone who knows me can tell you, I’m a bit of a feminist. I fiercely defend women’s rights. And I’m not so keen on the idea of sexually abusing children either. Deserved or not, my view of the Church was a witch-burning, child-abusing, patriarchal, land-owning oppressor.
After a little run-in with a co-worker who cringed at the words “family planning,” did I ever climb up on my high horse and ride it. Now I’m a good-looking lady, but self-righteousness doesn’t flatter anyone.
At the same time, Congress was fighting over funding for Planned Parenthood. And I had just been to an insanely good Ani Difranco concert. I was on fire.
Being the good adult I am (and at the pleading of Sante), I didn’t immediately quit my job. I talked to aforementioned co-worker and even *gasp* a Sister, one of JC’s wives. (Damn, dude is a pimp!) I’ve stayed on, begrudging all the patriarchy around me, becoming what I swore I would never be: An angry feminist.
This can’t be right, I thought earlier tonight. I’m turning 31 (an excellent age) tomorrow. My life is unbelievable rad: great friends, amazing man, house, running water, yummy food, etc. etc. How does this jive?
Pandora’s and my dragon warrior’s voice were all echoing in my head. Was staying at my job flushing my life into the pattern I’d been trying to bust out of for eons?
But as I was taking a shower (bless that amazing space for epiphanies), my relatively new habit of attempting balance kicked this thought at me: Maybe the answer to The Man isn’t disassociation; perhaps a knee-jerk feminist response isn’t the answer. After all, isn’t balance about avoiding extremes?
Be the change you want to see in the world.
It sails through my brain, dispelling my fears, my anger, my confusion. Suddenly the Universe opens. My helplessness dissolves.
The habit I’m breaking, the pattern I’m moving out of, is the perspective that The Man, The Establishment, The Government is my slave driver. Reaching out, strengthening ties and seeing the divine in every creature is what I can choose to do. Celebrating the beauty of life and common wins, no matter how small, is my choice.
And so, on the eve of my 31st year, I see that the world won’t change in the Us v. Them case while I sit praying for a sympathetic judge. That has led us to a stalemate. Any idiot can stand his ground or hide self-righteously behind her beliefs.
I choose to forge a new path. I choose compassion. I choose balance and partnership. And my birthday wish is that you choose the same.