I stared at daughter’s feet this morning covered in her soft black ballet shoes. Inside of the shoes were her little fit covered by her pink tights. She spotted those tights at Target a few months back and knew she had to have them. They are the perfect shade of pink according to her. She committed herself fully to earning those pretty pink tights.
She decided to step out of her normally contrarian personality in order to have them. Usually she gives my husband and I quite a fight when she is asked to complete a chore.
Something quite different emerged from this child with our offer to earn those tights. Everything we asked her to do was a “yes.” Yes mama I’ll do that, um how much will I earn? When will we get the tights?”
Getting her hands on those tights became her life mission in that week. She folded all her laundry without fuss and was exuberant about picking up sticks in the yard. I wondered if she had been fantasizing and imagining herself wearing those tights, maybe she saw herself dancing in them. Maybe she fantasized so much that she could viscerally feel those tights on her body. It was pure desire. She wasn’t going to change the world or her life by having attaining them, however there was something important about having them. I know as a child there’s little way she can articulate that, but as her mother I want her to experience those desires and embrace them. They are important and meaningful. They are information about who she truly is. They are information about her authentic self.
As I stared at her feet in those adorable tiny black ballet shoes and those pretty pink tights, Kamala Harris was on TV speaking in Shanksville, PA. September 11, 2021. It’s been 20 years since that day. Her words were focused on unity. She spoke of unity and diversity existing together and urged Americans to move towards the meshing of these two values. It was a call to admonish the fears that are leading us towards devastating hate and violence towards one another. It was a call to swing back the pendulum towards bravery and love.
I want those little feet to dance in a nation that can live up to Kamala’s words. I want her to listen to and use her pure desires to tap into her true self and to not be deceived by her fears of judgement from others. I want her to grow up to be a young, and old woman, who embodies bravery and love. I want those ballerina feet to stand their ground when she needs to stand firm in her beliefs. I want those feet to stay firmly planted into the earth, and for her to feel the strength and courage of not wavering to societies’ strong winds of anger, fear, and hatred. I want those ballerina feet to keep leaping and jumping and twirling and allowing her whole body to be emerged in fun and play throughout her entire life. I want those ballerina feet to keep moving forward even when she’s scared and is doubting herself. I want that pink twirling beauty to stand in her values and align her life so that she is living by them. The country is needing human beings who will do this. Who can take on this challenge of everyday bravery. The kind that isn’t sexy or even noticeable at times. Everyday bravery is facing the possibilities of bad things happening, of judgement, of not being liked, of failing, of being wrong and moving those dancing feet forward anyway. Real bravery and courage is connected to love not fear. People who truly embody it are lovers not haters.
I’m trying to do this myself. I’m trying to stand my ground. I’m trying not to be overtaken by the overt and covert violence we as a nation are participating in. Most of us are doing it to some degree though we may not identify it as violence. We’re falling into a terrifying mindset where our fearful thoughts are being taken as fact instead of what they truly are: thoughts. Does calling the anti vaccine and anti mask crowd stupid, ignorant, etc align with any of our countries values? Does referring to masked individuals as sheep, screaming in their faces, and taking out physical violence on them align with our countries values? If you were to really be honest does it? As an individual who is pro vaccine and pro mask I can tell you violent judgements have not just fluttered through my mind they have taken up a lot of space. They feel true now. They feel so true that my thoughts start to mold how I show up in the world behaviorally. They mold the way I make connection to others and who I’m willing to connect with, whom I’m willing to understand and listen to, have compassion for, and love.
These behaviors, these thoughts, these beliefs do not align with our countries values, and they certainly don’t align with mine. On my own journey I have identified my own personal values. My top 5 being Connection, Community, Relationship, Courage, and Self Respect. Everyone of us is a dancer and a mover. Our bodies can give us information that the mind could never access on it’s own. We need our bodies to be involved in our lives. Bravery, love, and unity cannot be intellectual ideals alone. They must live in our bodies. We must carry them in our bodies and allow those values to choreograph our everyday movement. Our values must choreograph our actions so that they line up with our authentic selves. So that we can access that person inside of us who is brave, loving, and infinitely wise in knowing how to create a society that embodies unity.
Unfortunately I had to leave in the middle of Kamala’s speech in Shanksville. My daughter and I needed to jet over to her dance class. I urged those little ballet feet to move quickly so we wouldn’t be late. I haven’t yet taken the time to hear the rest of her words online though I know I have access to them in a blink of an eye these days along with all the commentary that follows those words. Instead I sat down and wrote this piece. Instead I am feeling my fear and being honest with all of you. I hope that the choreography between all of us will change soon. I’m ready to move and dance in unity and diversity, with everyone who is willing to embody everyday bravery.