A revolution is being celebrated around the world today. Rainbows fill my social media. A step forward and outward. Stories are being shared. A check in the win column for love, acceptance, and joy.
I have been thinking about revolutions and storytelling lately – separate concepts that I’ve been trying to connect.
I’ve been reading writer-activist Rebecca Solnit’s books for the last month. I read one book and if there is something in it that awakens a stirring below the surface, I will read more from that author. In The Faraway Nearby, the first book of hers that I read, her quote on storytelling grabbed me immediately:
What’s your story? It’s all in the telling. Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice. To love someone is to put yourself in their place, we say, which is to put yourself in their story, or figure out how to tell yourself their story.
Since reading this quote, I have wanted to tell stories and my 100 scribbles project seemed a natural place to start.
In a previous scribble, I mentioned reading her book, Men Explain Things To Me.It helped me frame how to help my daughters and my son navigate a world still filled with inequality and discrimination. But it all came back to the story again.
“The ability to tell your own story, in words or images, is already a victory, already a revolt.”
– Rebecca Solnit, Men Explain Things to Me
In this context, Solnit is referring to women, who have been silenced, marginalized or made to disappear and who are now fighting against those forces in order to “appear.” But this quote can be applied to anyone and any type of revolution because ignorance is, by definition, a lack of information.
This made me think about revolution. When we think of revolution, we think of this large scale uprising to overthrow an existing system. I look at my children and wonder how to begin or even join a revolution. It seems too big for me. When lost, I pray. I pray for guidance. I am often mysteriously (or miraculously) led to books or to blogs or to articles that answer my prayer. And when I say answer my prayer, they don’t actually give me “answers,” they help me define my questions and lead me down a path of exploring those questions.
It’s as if the answers were always there, inside of me waiting for me to uncover or recover them. Generations of collective knowledge and ancestral wisdom lying dormant inside my consciousness. These articles or books resonate because they are reminders of what I have already known.
I came across one of these articles shortly after I started 100 scribbles at the beginning of this month. Solnit wrote “Revolutions of the Snails: Encounters with the Zapatistas” for TomDispatch.
We live in revolutionary times, but the revolution we are living through is a slow turning around from one set of beliefs and practices toward another, a turn so slow that most people fail to observe our society revolving — or rebelling. The true revolutionary needs to be as patient as a snail.
And then I remembered my mayBE project. A project I began because I wanted to celebrate creativity, imagination, and discovery through possibility and play. My first prompt was “Draw a large spiral.” And here is what I created:
The poem I chose to spiral into my was Oliver Wendell Holmes’ The Chambered Nautilus. Though not a snail, it’s construction and de-construction is the same. Nature’s way of accommodating growth. The slow spiral outwards.
There’s the answer I’ve had all along. Solnit’s story led me back to my own.
(Ruby slippers come in all forms.)
In the article, she also writes:
This creating — rather than simply rebelling — has been much of the nature of revolution in our time, as people reinvent family, gender, food systems, work, housing, education, economics, medicine and doctor-patient relations, the imagination of the environment, and the language to talk about it, not to speak of more and more of everyday life. The fantasy of a revolution is that it will make everything different, and regime revolutions generally make a difference, sometimes a significantly positive one, but the making of radical differences in everyday life is a more protracted, incremental process. It’s where leaders are irrelevant and every life matters.
Every life matters.
Every story matters. Through other people’s stories, we can imagine and empathize. Maybe you don’t or can’t understand my story. That’s understandable. Maybe it’s hard to stand in my shoes: a homeschooling, mother of four daughters and a son, 36 year old Filipina-Canadian observing what goes on around her. But maybe there is something that stirs you. Maybe you question something you’ve assumed. Maybe you see something you didn’t see before. Maybe you feel a little more connected. Maybe through my vulnerability here, you are willing to soften a bit too. Maybe this is the beginning of an inward/outward spiral.
Maybe this is the beginning of telling your story: your fears, your victories, your failures. All of it.
I’d love to hear it. The world needs to hear it.
This is where a revolution begins.
100 scribbles…hurriedly writing the here and now.
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