“Human beings are
soft and supple when alive,
stiff and straight when dead.
The myriad creatures, the grasses and trees are
soft and fragile when alive,
dry and withered when dead.
Therefore, it is said:
The rigid person is a disciple of death;
The soft, supple, and delicate are lovers of life.
An army that is inflexible will not conquer;
A tree that is inflexible will snap.
The unyielding and mighty shall be brought low;
The soft, supple, and delicate will be set above.”
~ Tao Te Ching #41 Lao Tzu (Translation copyright © 1990 by Victor H. Mair)
“Instead of getting hard ourselves and trying to compete, women should try and give their best qualities to men – bring them softness, teach them how to cry.” ~ Joan Baez
I’ve been weeping a lot this week. I said to Barry that I was feeling emotionally fragile. However, several things converged to change my mind to make me feel differently. These are in no particular order.
I watched the seasons, Cranford, and Return to Cranford this week. I had seen Cranford several years ago, and read the book on which it is based, but because we didn’t subscribe to BritBox at that time, I couldn’t watch the second series. I decided it was time to complete my experience. The story is filled with so much love that I wept at the end of each ending.
They are actually a combination of three or four stories by Elizabeth Gaskell (1810 – 1865) She was close friends with Charlotte Brontë and like the Brontë sisters, was a woman writer in a time when getting her work published was a terribly difficult thing to do. However, the list of her work is long and impressive. And she did it while being a minister’s wife and the mother of six children. Almost all of her stories revolve around female protagonists. They are gentle representations of life in England at a time when life was changing rapidly because of the Industrial Revolution. The stories reflect the kind of communities I would love to live in.
During that time, I listened to Brené Brown’s resumption of her podcast. She’d been on sabbatical for a few months. Brené is a completely open and vulnerable person. She shared some life shattering events that were part of her decision to take a step back. But mostly, she quit doing her Unlocking Us podcast when that controversy over Joe Rogen exploded. All of Brené’s podcasts are exclusively on Spotify. Since her work is all about vulnerability, shame, and how we deal with our emotions, she wasn’t sure Spotify’s response to Rogen’s misinformation was appropriate. The controversy affected her a great deal. She feels a great responsibility to her Community and to promoting self-examination, inclusion, social justice, and the like. The reaction she got was shocking.
When she took a step back to do some examination of herself and her work, she was bombarded with such vitriol and hatred that it added to the stresses on her personal life. This first podcast back was all about “Shaking the Sh*t from the Trees.” Did she deserve the hatred directed at her? Had she made mistakes with her research? How could she recover from the attacks and move forward? How could she deal with the difficult things happening in her family? The thing I love about Brené is she tells the truth about her experiences, how they affect her, and how she deals with what happens. Over the years I’ve been slowly doing the same thing. What she shared spoke to what’s going on with me.
Fortunately, I’m not subjected to hate filled responses to any of my posts, no matter where they appear. At least not yet. But when people I follow do experience that, it makes me realize that for some reason and for the most part, humans have subscribed to the ideas that the world is a scary and dangerous place. That when someone we relied upon takes a break to take care of themselves, our crutch is taken away and we get scared and angry. “How can we possibly take care of ourselves?” And so they lash out with hatred because they are unable to acknowledge their fear and need to do their own work.
This morning I was thinking about my emotional ups and downs of the week and ideas came together in my head. In both Cranford seasons, Miss Matty Jenkyns is the heart of a town mostly populated by widowed, or single women. She is gentle, loving, and supportive of her friends and acquaintances. Throughout the stories, she suffers lots of losses but they never make her hard. She always forgives and allows her neighbors to have their own opinions. If she thinks events need to be re-evaluated, such as supporting the railroad coming to town, she entreats her friends to do so in very gentle ways. Because of this, she is supported by those who love her.
In the last episode of the entire work, there is a train wreck and some people are killed when the engine explodes. The townspeople are in shock and grief. Miss Matty comes up with a plan to help them come together and heal. And when one of the characters asks her how she managed to accomplish her goal she says, “Love is the final word.”
Love is considered to be a soft emotion. But no matter what, love always wins. My friend and former colleague, Dave Dahl, always asked our acting students to find the love in their scenes. I think that’s what I look for in all the stories I consume. Where is the love and how are the characters changed and healed by it? And by extension, how am I healed by it?
My emotions are near the surface now because I’ve been doing quite a bit of self-examination. And I find that stories I told myself about who I am are not true. The role I thought I was supposed to be playing during this lifetime, is not what I thought. I’m not quite sure what twists and turns my life will take once I launch my online course. I know that my podcast and this blog are beginning to get more attention. For a long time I have been reluctant to come out of hiding and become more visible. But, I can’t stop now. When I was editing the next Story-Power episode, I realized that creativity benefits both the creator and the consumer of the work. I believe it it creativity that will save the world, not so much science. Because it is creativity that helps us examine our emotions. And our emotions are what shape our experiences. Hard emotions make the world a difficult place in which to live. Soft emotions make it welcoming. I want to live in a welcoming world.
Thank you so much for following, liking and commenting. I hope things in your world are going well.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2022
The Space Between Time
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards.
Have you ever experienced life shattering events? Yeah, after the last few years, most of us have. In The Space Between Time, Jenna Holden gets slammed by her fiancé walking out, her mother’s untimely death, and losing her job all in one week. But she receives unexpected help when she finds her three-times great-grandmother’s journals and begins the adventure of a lifetime.
The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published.
Lucinda is also the host of Story-Power a podcast where she and her guests discuss their creative endeavors, and/or the stories that have changed their lives. It’s available here on Sage Woman Chronicles and on Apple, Google, and Spotify podcast apps. Please rate and leave a review. It helps people find me.
I’m so passionate about stories that I created the Story-Power podcast and Patreon communities so I’d have an excuse to talk story with other story lovers. If you’re passionate about stories too, and want to talk about what you’ve learned from your favorites, come join me at patreon.com/StoryPower.
If you are a podcaster, or have a message or fantastic product you want to share with the world, I encourage you to check out PodMatch. Use the affiliate link and tell them, Lucinda sent you. Then contact me so we can set up a Story-Power chat.