Here's something I'm thinking about lately.
1. First, there's the fact I've known for awhile -- I know that the person having a huge spaz attack and completely wigging out ... that person has blown all authoritative credibility. Children write off explosive parents because they figure out that such people can't be depended on, students write off the capricious and moody teachers, and in general, the person given to the temper fit has no credibility.
I learned this early in my life. Probably everyone has one parent more given to explosions and one parent more given to going quiet, and I could see that the explosion dissipated the power. It looked to me like power could either be thrown all over the room and evaporated out into the (now somewhat unpleasant) air ... or it could be used. The angry person isn't a person who can take in information. It shuts down all the intake valves to have a big tantrum. There is simply no authority and no power in a tantrum. None. I figured that one out for myself awhile ago.
2. Second, there's also this other fact that I've tried to verbalize from time to time, and now have recently heard from Dr. Christiane Northrup's newest PBS presentation, called Menopause and Beyond. Women are, by their very nature as women, creatures of centripetal force. We have a gravitational field for other people. We draw things into ourselves -- ideas, feelings, Y-chromosomes ... and we decide what to do with all of this incoming material upon which we may work.
Okay ... so I've been thinking about where these two things meet -- and I think they meet at that point of self-possession where we decide what to do about input WE DON'T LIKE. When something comes to us that we didn't choose, don't want, or thought would be something it turned out not to be ... that's the moment of decision. It is for men too, but I think it's different for women. I think that men are biologically and psychologically inclined to deal with the world outside themselves as if it is actually outside themselves - but women are inclined to take from outside of themselves whatever is there, and take it into themselves, and work from there. I think women tend to work from a perspective of womb -- yin, not yang -- darkness and hidden and secret during creation, not light and power and out-spreading. At least, not at first. For women, first it's Yin. (And the human balance comes in the blending and mutual support of the opposing forces, just as the strength of an architectural archway is in its tension and opposition.)
But I digress.
What is this thing we do not like? Did not want? Would rather refuse?
It could be anything. It could be universal things like aging and the passage of time and the fact of kids not being kids any more. It could be something specific and personal, like the fact of someone being horrid to us. It could be situational - like a well-made plan that will be all messed up if someone else's input gets factored in. It could be something relatively small and silly in the great scheme of things - like we're out of a certain ingredient and we're already in the middle of the recipe.
Whatever it is, it comes to us - unexpected sometimes - and sometimes more or less than we'd thought it would be. Whatever it is, it's a moment of possible change - a moment of decision. And that's when we get a chance to exercise power. Real power. The best and most powerful kind of power. These moments are the trumpet voluntary introducing our chance to CREATE.
Of course, it feels like a setup. Every time - it just feels like the deck is stacked against us, and the power is in the situation. It feels like something happening "to" us.
But that's a lie. In fact, it is in these moments that we have the power of actual creation in the moment of chaos. We can decide to substitute ingredients, forge new kinds of relationships, and do things with our age that we couldn't do with our youth ... or we can decide to relinquish our power, lose all self-possession, and just have a huge spaz attack, giving (flinging) all power into the situation and taking none of it for the act of creation. (Or ... what I usually do ... wig out and THEN calm down and create something.)
See what I mean?
I am coming to believe that women take things in, and then women create -- or ... when they do not create - when they decide instead to destroy - or to deny the power being offered to them and do nothing with it - then women end up with these moments coming to them, and they duck and cover, rail and rant, and in the end, run the risk of having passed by every opportunity to engage in the most powerful of
all human endeavors -- the power to create.
That woman is Zheng Xiaoying, the first Chinese woman conductor. As the first Chinese woman conductor, professor Zheng Xiaoying has been the first conductor in China Opera, dean of conduct department in central conservatory of music and chief inspector of art for Woman Philharmonic Orchestra. Now she is engaged as the general director and chief conductor of Xia Men Philharmonic Orchestra, the first Symphony Orchestra supported by government and run under responsibility system. She is also the executive council member of Musician Association of China. In 1981, she won the first prize of conductor in the art societies directly under Ministry of Art, the honorary decoration of Literary and Art of France in 1985 and the national devotion award of the old. --- That's pretty creative. Now imagine all the many moments of decision that happened in her life.
But it's a war! Women didn't start this war. Men did. (A very tired argument, that one. But it does refuse to die.) So? What's to do about it then? Moan about the fact of it? Or pick up a riveting gun?
Today, on NPR, I heard about Lt. Katherine Flynn (later Katherine Nolan), who was part of the 53rd Army Field Hospital that treated the most seriously wounded — from the D-Day invasion through the Battle of the Bulge and beyond. Not only that, her husband was a WWII vet, her sons served in Viet Nam, and her youngest son, Steve, has been serving as chief of a combat stress unit in Afghanistan. If you get a moment, listen to the segment. Her whole attitude can be summed up at the end of it. "Somebody had to do it." So she did. That's her there, washing her hair in her helmet - the helmets, she says, they used for protection, and if they got sick, for throwing up into.
Thanks, Katherine. Your valor, and the valor of your entire family puts a whole lot of things into perspective for the rest of us.