We are here! We are here! We are here!
The signs (both literal and figurative) last Saturday, were overwhelming. Women, Muslims, men, children– PEOPLE want to feel hope, love, solidarity– a dynamic connection to something bigger.
There was anti-Trump sentiment to be sure, but Trump’s inauguration has created something much bigger than a response to him. He has become a catalyst for something truly awe-inspiring– the collective power of our individual passion.
He has lit a flame under the collection of small compromises, resignations and reluctant apathy we have amassed out of our fear that, on our own, we cannot effect change.
We had become so isolated in our individual universes we forgot.
We are more than a bunch of me’s.
We are a WE!
Trump has reminded us. He has ignited our desire for a more meaningful connected global conversation. And equally as important, he has inadvertently resurrected our belief that change IS possible. And if we work together, we CAN DO anything!
What happened this past Saturday was a reaction to one thing, but it is also a sign, as a global society, we are ready for something bigger.
If ever there was an illustration of our desire for this change, it was the five million plus people that marched to say WE ARE HERE! We will be heard. Our voice matters. This conversation matters.
It was big. Bold.
But, for me, the conversation began in a more quiet, unexpected way.
On the day of Trump’s inauguration, there was an article on the cover of the New York Times Weekend Arts section about Emily Dickinson. It sparked Hope in the darkened sky of my mind.
It seemed to say, that even in this time of gross ugliness, beauty matters. Not fake glossy magazine beauty but the raw muscular beauty of poetic questions.
The fearless beauty of revolutionary thinking and expansive words: fierce love and unrelenting faith. The kind of beauty that wakes us up.
That points to the elephant we could not see, and says, Behold!
The article, Belle of Amherst? Make That Rebel, reviewed the exhibition opening at the Morgan Library & Museum that will give 21st century audiences a fresh take on this brilliant and provocative mid-1800’s poet.
The exhibition has a mission.
Holland Cotter writes, Gone is the white-gowned Puritan nun, and that infantilized charmer, the Belle of Amherst… The Morgan’s Dickinson is a person among people: a member of a household, a village-dweller, a citizen.
The word citizen had already begun vibrating in my mind after Obama’s eloquent and powerful farewell address, but I could not figure out where it and I intersected.
“It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy,” he said. “Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen. Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you.”
Me? But who am I? What can I do?
The idea that Obama would be entrusting the stewardship of this great country not so much to the next president as to us, its’ citizens, was collectively empowering, but personally intimidating.
I have not felt worthy of this proud title. I have always felt like what I have to contribute to my community, my country, even my self is not big or important enough. Not relevant or even necessarily desired.
But somehow, the fact Emily Dickinson was a citizen, allowed me entry.
I am, like all of us, many things– a mom, a wife, Chief Creative Officer, an animal lover, a lyricist, a dishwasher, a runner, the daughter of deceased parents, an outgoing introvert, a radical mastermind of big picture initiatives, but, in my heart of hearts I am a poet.
Not a respectable, literary academic poet, nor a legit pop culture slam poet.
More of a weird mixed breed pound poet.
But a passionate poet actively engaged, every day, in trying to create a more connected, loving, creative, inclusive and mindful environment for my family and the world we live in. Perhaps our patriotism is best generated by our passion.
And since our passions have no borders, it is fitting that our patriotism seems to have outgrown geographical boundaries.
Our devotion has expanded into a global declaration of freedom, love and peace– a declaration big enough to hold all our uniquely individual expressions.
So, I am marching in my own way.
As a proud citizen of our current day Whoville, I sound my impassioned YOP! As a revolutionary poet of the people, I sound my barbaric YAWP!
And on the days I feel that what i have to offer is not what the world needs, not big enough to matter, I remember what modern-day poet, Christian Wiman, says about the power of poetry:
Let us remember … that in the end we go to poetry for one reason, so that we might more fully inhabit our lives and the world in which we live them, and if we more fully inhabit these things, we might be less apt to destroy both.