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As you may, or may not, know Lady Gregory translated and collaborated with Yeats and Synge.  She was not only a producer and director of theatre in Ireland (co-founder of the Irish National Theatre and the Abbey Theatre Company) she was a playwright. But, what I remember about Lady Gregory is that she was the youngest in a huge Irish family and while still an infant they very nearly threw her away with the dirty bed linens.

This idea that women can be thrown away has resonated with me throughout my life. That we are somehow disposable. In order to stay relevant we must behave, look, emotionally connect, in a very specific way. It’s puzzling. And something to reflect on as a middle aged woman.

When I begin to feel the rage around that fact, I think of Gregory, Charlotte Cushman, Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West, Emily Dickinson, and Sappho. Then another rush of rage rises up when I realize these are just some of the women we know about. How many go un-named? I’ve spend a decade on the women of Molly Maguire. And recently found another Deborah Randall. Deborah Knapp Randall who was a very prestigious woman in Annapolis. There are highways and airports named after men who may have held violent politics. And, these women have somehow, at best, managed to avert the erasure.

Why weren’t they thrown into the waters with the dirty linen?

Because they are connected to a truth. Maybe a truth that has not yet been fully revealed but it will out. It’s connected to the oral tradition of storytelling. To passion having more power than control. To even the dimmest flame on the smallest candle having the ability to illuminate the deepest darkness.

Eventually.

I’m looking at the stats regarding Glass Cliffs and Double Binds that women face. And feeling the third wave of fury. I witness. I am audience to some action flick that wants to smash women down into a mottled puree…some x rated adult puppet show that mimics in singing rhyme so many lives cut short or silenced into obscurity. I witness. And, the fury surrounds. And, the little flicker illuminates.

Middle age is interesting. I know I’m suspended in the air by giants. I know that I live in the best time possible to do what it is that I do. And, I continue to see the betrayal. The shortcomings. The devastating and hilarious quote from that 70+ woman once again protesting outside of the White House with a sign that says, “I can’t believe I’m still here.” And that takes me to the Suffragists.

The Iron Jawed Angels. Some of these women died before they saw their battle won. Then there are the ingrates who have forgotten their sacrifice. The ones who use arguments from over a century ago about women voting the same as their husband. About women being property essentially.

And, I look around and see how some of us try to become precious property instead of priceless individuals.

And, I remember an old boss who committed suicide when she turned 50. Make-up tattooed on her face as she lie in the open coffin. And I remember this recurring mantra in my head, Barbie never makes it to 50. And, I wonder why anyone thinks this is okay.

In order to be seen we must fall within the spectrum of the current definition of woman. But, in order to grow forward we must essentially leave the spectrum altogether. It’s a journey.

I have made mistakes.

There is no perfect person. So, this means forgiveness is the only way to temper down the waves of fury. We need to forgive and stand in truth where we can glimpse it. Where we can find it.

I’m struggling with that. Struggling with how to accept the world exactly as it is without putting my judgements on it. Without resenting it. Without holding it to my story line. How to honor what is. What exists. What’s been done as a bridge to what will become instead of a barrier to all that could have been but has been lost.

This, I believe, was the original intention of the sacrificial alter. We must sacrifice what our ego tells us should have happened so that our spirit can soar into all of the best of what will be. Theatre teaches us that our only real power lies within the moment at hand. For what has past we have remembrance and we should pay respect to the souls that lay down their lives so that we could choose to ignore their accomplishments. All of the inequity mounts into a monstrous personification of some kind of lady-killer-karma. Fire is sometimes necessary to clear the land for new growth. But, it’s also a reaction that is unpredictable. I tell myself, when possible: Lay it on the alter and give it over to something greater than myself. Let it go. Find the faintest flicker of light and take the journey.

I hope I am of the lineage of the wise warrior. The one that knows when to fight and when to ride on. The one holding the light.

I hope.

 

 

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