Expecting the weather to be a bit warmer, I press my baby close, hoping I’ve dressed her warm enough. We are walking down Independence Avenue with thousands of others, surrounded by cheers, chants and goodwill. The crowd is so thick it is hard to get out. Rather than leave the flow of the march, I dip my daughter into the crook of my arm and nurse her as we’re walking.
I don’t actually like breastfeeding in public. It’s uncomfortable and leaves me feeling exposed not only physically but emotionally. But it is my personal form of activism, so I do it anyway. My hippy roots insist that the patriarchy will not shame or sexualize me for performing a natural act.
But it’s not necessarily my hippy roots that find me marching in DC on this January day. I take personal offense to comments made about women during the election. It appalled and disgusted me that these comments were waved off as “locker room talk.” It felt imperative for my voice to be heard, and to stand up for daughter, who has yet to express herself in this world.
I want to be very clear about this point. When women are spoken about in this manner, I for one feel demeaned, objectified, unworthy and fearful. Do you hear what I’m saying? I feel afraid of sexual violence when these comments are made. It is not acceptable, and I won’t accept it.
There are many things in this life that we must learn to accept, so many things we cannot change. And many of these are beautiful, wonderful, amazing. Grant me the serenity to accept that I cannot change the colors of a winter sunrise, the stark curve of a mountainside, deliciously dark rain clouds. Nothing I can do will alter the caress of a warm breeze, the flurry of stars in the sky or the hand you have extended in kindness.
We can no more control the tides than a piece of driftwood can, bobbing up and down at the mercy of the waves. For better or worse, the events we experience in life are often the same. We have choices, but the tide is much stronger than a piece of driftwood or a grain of sand. Do we let the tide carry us or fight like mad against the waves? Dare we trust that this tide will ultimately lead us to a loving and peaceful place?
Hope requires a lot of faith. Faith in humanity, a higher power, the triumph of good over evil. In these times of uncertainty, we must walk forward with fierce optimism. We must let go of winning and losing. It is also a time for raising your voice, with compassion, with a deep understanding that all will be well. I’m gonna get real existential here and suggest that things will be as they will be no matter what we do, while on a separate but equally as real plane, it’s our choices that define us.
We don’t choose to put ourselves in difficult situations, but here we are, and now we choose how to handle it. The words “fight for what you believe in,” are violent in themselves. I will not fight, but I will speak up. I will not hide. I will not fear. “Take action!” is the cry. And many of us do not know what to do. The action is here, in your hands, already given to you. We must enter into this day with as much joy as we can muster, we must love those around us with everything we have. There are those doing big things and those doing little ones, but all you need to worry about is doing the next right thing.
The next right thing is always moving another foot forward. Today I will nurse my baby, recycle my glass, smile. Today I will accept the things I cannot change.