Women Of Influence
“You will never make it,” she declared to me. It was as if she threw down a gauntlet and I was no chicken. Too much had already happened in my life by age 18 for me to be otherwise. This was just one more challenge to prove that I was not worthless or destined to live a life riddled with abuse of all nature and types. It was another moment of choices to make.
There were too many women of influence in my experience by then. Mrs. Portia Simpson-Miller, a leading politician in the country of my birth and later the first female Prime Minister of Jamaica, was one of them. She had spent many hours strategizing in my political activist mother’s house.
I had heard many accounts from my mother about her interactions with another. Later, I would keenly listen to many of her women-centered speeches. She was the former first lady of Jamaica, Beverley Anderson-Manley. Then there was my mother. Misguided and confused about her identity as she was, my mother was possibly the most influential woman in my life — in a very twisted way. This was something I only recognized later in my life.
Choices, We All Have Them
It was 1983 and my former high schoolmate was the one making this declaration on my life. I had shared my glad tidings of being awarded a scholarship to pursue post-graduate studies in the former Soviet Union. Looking back, this was probably the first time ‘that something’ , i.e., my heart, started communicating with me, trying to tell me, “Enough of people telling you what or who you are!”
That Something returned to me quite often since then. This post was first published in February 2007 when “Something’ came quietly visiting again. It was after a sleepless night worrying for people who clearly were not concerned about me. It felt as if a hole was pierced through my heart by an unfortunate and almost deadly event had occurred. Despite my pleading, one of them made some choices that would affect her life until this day.
“Something” spoke to me as I drove to work that cold winter morning through a male friend of mine. He told, no, rather he instructed to declare as dead to me the women who have had the opposite effect to Mrs. Simpson-Miller and Mrs. Anderson Manley.
It, “Something,” would later jump off the page of a book, “One Day at a Time in Al-Anon [Alcoholics Anonymous],” my then Spiritual Director handed me. She felt a particular quote was relevant to my situation.
The quote was from Thomas Merton’s book “No Man is an Island:”
“Although all men have a common destiny, each individual also has to work out
his personal salvation for himself …We can help one another find out the meaning
of life … But in the last analysis, each is responsible for ‘finding himself’.”
Dramatic Versus Conscious Living
My life has never been unexciting. The excitement started from the day I was six weeks old and my mother ‘fled’ the home where we lived with my father. Drama of no mean order is what best describes many of my years. Filled with television soap opera-type manipulation, outright deceit and lies and betrayal of everything sacred, I have been at the edge at least twice.
Back in 2007, as I healed from the last major dramatic event of my journey, I told a friend,“I will be the brightest light! I will not fail, instead I will shine, speaking truth always and defending what is sacred.” That was my Responsible and Conscious Choice. Gary Zukav was the teacher who guided me through. His work showed me how to make choices that would lead to consciously living my life. What became clear to me almost 10 years ago is that we can continue our roles in the dramatic productions we get caught in or we can choose how we shall live. Asking myself that Big Question, “How Shall I Live?” my choices for the rest of my life were:
- Demonstrate honesty in all things and situations.
- Seek justice for the oppressed, feed the hungry, give spiritual sight to the spiritually blind and shine the light of truth in dark corners (minds).
- Help others realize that life is more than material stuff and physical and temporary pleasure (sex, alcohol, drugs)
- Live out the real meaning of loyalty, caring, compassion, and speaking the truth the first time
Yes, I was ready to accept the consequences of my choices. With that came the ability to look in the mirror with no shame, no regrets, guiltless and no remorse.
Living With Your Choices
Recently, I caught a glimpse of one of the persons in the most ‘riveting’ drama of my life. While it caused me pause to see that the past was still having such an impact, I reminded myself that we all have choices to make and once made, we live with the consequences. As Merton wrote, it is not my task to save anyone. That person made a choice that I would never have made but could have made. We were both in a similar place of despair and anguish.
Life will pose these big questions and they will come in the form of choices to be made. Be careful what you wish for, be careful of the choices you make – you might surely get it and more than you expected! And, your choices could last a lifetime.
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Choices, choices, choices.