A couple of weeks ago, my writing group worked with this ancient proverb as a jumpstarter:
When sleeping women wake, mountains move.
The pieces written that day by my fellow female writers were so beautiful. We felt ourselves as community – our vulnerabilities and strengths, our challenges with identity, value, and process in a patriarchal paradigm, our natural inclinations toward connection and cooperation, but also our secret insecurities, jealousies, anger, and competitiveness…the whole kit and caboodle of being a waking woman. We are indeed women waking! And I do believe mountains are on the move.
One of the things I felt that day and have been letting percolate ever since, is a new respect for the feminine power of understatement in this bombast-oriented world. Mountains can move one inch at a time, and there is something about that notion that needs more appreciation. We are a world of bombs and f-bombs, and those certainly grab our attention, but we are also a world of helping hands behind the scenes, humble hands, so many of which are female. One of our writers reminded us of another famous quote by Mao Zedong:
Women hold up half the sky.
I struggle, as does every woman I know, with making my mark on the world. Our societal norms demand extraordinariness from us to even justify our existence. Being called ordinary is an insult. So our average, daily lives, in which we have to make a living, make food, do laundry, pay bills, attend to family needs, etc., are subconsciously evaluated, at the end of the day, as being less than our potential. But most of those women holding up the sky would not qualify as extraordinary. And yet they are holding up the sky!
So I am writing this piece in praise of old-fashioned woman’s work. Not to diminish in any way our modern woman’s rights and liberties, for which I am deeply grateful, I also bow to the moms, the volunteers, the helpers. They are moving mountains an inch at a time, (which, if you think about it, is much less disruptive than the earthquake variety of movement), even though it won’t make the news or the best-seller list.
Women are waking, mountains are moving, and the sky is being held, in a quiet, understated, even ordinary way. That is worth noting and celebrating.