I love moments when the world’s monotonous ticking is interrupted. There is time to go inside my own soul and investigate what is there and why. The snow started falling and my dream to get snowed in for few days is here. It is the snow of my childhood, when the streets became fluffy and crispy and that was the only event that mattered.
I sat in the coffee shop before getting snowed in, so that I could write. I was about to tune out with my headphones, but Billie Holiday came on. She wailed for all of us. This woman struggled from birth, being born to out of wedlock, left by her father with no support. She worked in a brothel as a young girl with her mother and went to prison for it. Her life story is a tragedy of drugs, misfortunes and abusive relationships, probably caused by all of that pain. Billie, whose voice we canonized after her death, had a life of mostly suffering.
But in the coffee shop, her unique sound breathed life into me, years after her death, she still speaks, her voice the wire that connects us with our own human pain. The greats continue to cry the lessons that they have learned, so that we know that we are not alone. They had the courage to articulate their story, to be the ones who didn’t hide away, even in their pain.
Their voices cry, “Please, do something good in the world. Do something you are proud of!”
Some days I drown in the conventional thinking and I am suffocated and oppressed by my own thoughts.
Over the weekend, I saw an exhibit about the Feminist movement. I was reminded that women used to be warriors, queens, and they were equals to men and then one day someone decided to say let’s keep them at home and not educate them and make them weak. Let’s make them housewives. And now, after centuries of fighting for women’s right, to say that you are a housewife in Park Slope means that somehow you made it. Instead of getting our rights and doing something, we have convinced ourselves again to think that it’s good to do nothing, while our hearts starve to make a difference, to affect the world. But to do it and to get into that world, you at least have to act like a man. Intuition is witches talk. Emotions must be frozen while you work. Tears are for the closet and for the weak.
In my meandering digs information or for distraction online, I found a Ted Talk about this woman who became schizophrenic. It came on suddenly for her, she was normal except for well hidden depression and anxiety. She described the voice that she started hearing that sounded real to her. A voice that would become violent and aggressive when there was stress in her life.
I thought about my own voice. The people who talk to themselves on the street and us are the same, we just have it on mute. So then the voice that I hear in my head, and that schizophrenics hear is similar in that way. We also have a voice that is guiding us through the decision tree of each moment and that is just as real. On the days that life feels good and I know what my purpose is, I look around at the world with awe of beauty, but on the days that feel hard, the voice is meaner. It starts to say that I am not good enough and that I can’t really achieve my dreams. “Don’t even try, because you are not as good as others,” it says and I make decisions based on that. Is that my own voice, or is it years and years of being programmed that our views don’t matter?
“I don’t suffer anymore,” said a girl to me after she started medication.
“Really?” I asked in disbelief.