The transition from Summer to Fall is here. The air is no longer textured and weighed down with heat; it is crisp and impalpable and the trees remain green for the time being. I had a moment yesterday on the balcony of Julie's place (i.e. my pseudo-home) while attempting to read my very intense book for WEAVE (Women's Empowerment and Violence Education, which is the group I am a Lifestyle Advisor for at Western). I was trying to choke down chapters of these overwhelming stories from women from all sorts of paths discussing the hard issues: rape, domestic violence, exploitation, abortion, coming to terms with sexual identities that are not hetero-normative, among many many others.
My particular interest lies in the "big picture" as I see it- the culture itself that perpetuates these tragedies. People who are violent rapists, or manipulative "lovers," or who participate directly in human trafficking, are not aliens. This environment, this society, has produced these people. So how do we change the society as a whole, instead of focusing on the symptoms of the broken society in which we all live?
So anyhow, I am contemplating this outside, with a cozy sweater on and my notebook and a glass of wine. And I am compelled to write a poem instead of reading this book, so I begin to write down my musings on the trees and the sky and the trash cans below, which are uncapped and filled with flattened boxes and dirty bags full of the waste that are the staples of our college lives (read: Lots of Rainier boxes). So suddenly I look up at the sky and I have this MOMENT of Everything Being Perfect.
Sans acid, I have never experienced such a feeling before. The blue sky behind one of the countless giant trees that provide a comfort to all of us lucky Northwesterners was so gorgeous with the green leaves. I could hear birds chirping and I saw a squirrel bolt across the road, missing a car that rolled by slowly. A brave helmet-less biker flew past my porch, overtaking the car. I felt so much awe and gratitude at what an incredibly beautiful world this is and how nature is still very much here, and how in that moment nature and this modern society were complementary to one another. In that moment, nothing was at odds. Spiritual experience?
During training today we were told to write to our future selves (the one who will exist in June) about our goals in WEAVE this school year. I hadn't had coffee yet...so I had low expectations for my cognitive capabilities under the circumstances (8am + no coffee = crickets a la brain). I was having a hard time figuring out how to quantify my progress over the next year in the area of helping survivors of violence and providing information about gender equality and feminism to my peers. I concluded that I needn't quantify anything at this time. I simply wrote to myself that I wanted to feel like I had successfully fought patriarchy and rape culture. I want to feel like I was an accessible advocate that people are comfortable coming to. I want to help survivors access resources, and build confidence in themselves and their boundaries. I want to help others find their power, and I want to fully tap into my own.
My birthday is coming up, so I have been feeling extra reflective as of late. I will write more on that later. For now, my heart is full of emotion. It is sad for all of us who have felt the weight of oppression, and it is hopeful that we will affect lives through this work.