“A quiet roar can change history.”
The above quotation comes from a not-yet-published poem on its way to becoming a children’s book by Marilyn Nelson (https://marilyn-nelson.com/index.php/about/.)
When I first heard her read the poem on the On Being podcast I was on the way to work. Something in it spoke deeply to my soul. I think it was because the main character is . . .
And an introvert
And not much interested in competition
And she likes to withdraw from the world (behind a recliner) and draw.
I don’t draw, but like the character Marilyn Nelson created for this story, I thirst for time away from all the action. I am nourished by reflection. I need woods, and rivers, and lakes, and quiet, long expanses of unscheduled time. At times in my life, many times, I have told myself these are not needs, they are just preferences – especially extravagant in light of the suffering of others.
Shouldn’t I be on the streets protesting?
Shouldn’t I be able to work harder and longer?
Shouldn’t I spend more time on productive, intellectual, political knowledge-gathering instead of listening to poets and woo-wooish spiritual teachers?
I (and others) could certainly make compelling arguments that I should be.
And yet . . .
I have learned that when I do not follow the path of my own soul, I end up parched and depressed, critical and whiney. Angry from the inside.
That little girl in me who needs to sit behind the recliner and hear the news only in snippets, she starts roaring for sure, but not the kind of roar that changes history. The kind that hurts herself and those around her. Because she is so hungry for her soul’s food.
When I refuse to follow the path of my own soul, my roar becomes destructive.
I think the thing that brought tears to my eyes every time I listened to this poem—three times in a row between home and work that morning—was the incredible honoring of this little girl, just as she is.
The freedom given to her to be quiet, and reflective, and FEMALE, and not to have that those qualities equated with weakness, but with a different kind of strength.
Not better, not worse, than the masculine power of her older brother and her activist parents.
A quiet roar can change history. So, can a loud one.
Whichever kind of roar is yours I hope you will feel in these words affirmation that your way is your way. It just is.
I hope you will feel the freedom to feed your soul with the food it needs.
Whether that’s doing moving meditation, when those around you say sitting quietly is the only way.
Or sitting quietly while those around you march.
This is how we THRIVE for equity, Amazing Ones. The only way we can. As ourselves.
Here’s to thriving.
P.S. If you want to listen to Marilyn Nelson reading the whole poem, it’s literally the last 5 minutes of the episode which you can find here.
P.P.S. I wrote this post before her testimony, but it strikes me that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is one who would have preferred to continue to roar quietly, but has been asked by Life in this moment to exercise incredible courage to bring that quiet roar out from behind the recliner, so others will not be silenced. We must be ourselves. And we must be brave too.