© 2017 by Lauren Slater. 

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Women's March

January 23, 2017

 

     I have written nine books that come to, all told, well over a thousand pages but I have never written a single blog entry  and I'm not even sure I know what one is. I think of a blog as a public space where one triers out new ideas or re-posts important pieces of news they come across, as in Anne Lamott's Kindness Blog which seems to be a collection of news items that speak to the fact that kindness still exists on planet earth. I'd like to have a theme for my blog, along with a well honed reason as to why I am setting foot in this part of cyberspace, but I have neither a theme nor a reason, just some inchoate sense that it might indeed make sense if I set down some entirely irrelevant facts about my life in the hopes that they resonate with someone, somewhere, because when that happens the world is a little less lonely. I suppose that is as good a reason as any to start a blog, that and the discipline I imagine it must take to cull from your life, a few times a week, moments that you might not have thought important but that become, once pen is set to paper, possible themes, or images, worthy of preserving. 

     I went to the Trump March in Boston, along with the hundreds and thousands of others who attended. The march was so large, so sprawling, that we could not hear the speakers or even see in front of us. People were climbing pillars, posts, and trees to get a view and somewhere in that vast sprawl of bodies a baby cried and cried.

     The march was so large that, ironically, it was hard to feel a part of it, hard to feel much more than a mote spinning in space, except once, and that once was all I needed. I saw a boy perched in a tree and all of a sudden a swelling sound, at first faint but gathering in intensity as the crowd began to chant "March March March," and slowly the swell of people began to move, en mass, towards the gates of the common. The mounting sound of the enormous crowd, the repetition of the chant, sent a thrill through my entire body, and for just some moments I lost the sense of my singularity and felt to be part of something that was human and huge, not a human form with arms and legs but more like a vast and rippling muscle, I a single striation in this flex and force, swept up, entirely, so that tears ached in my throat, because it is always a joyous thing to shed your own skin and become, if only for mere moments, a part of something so large and so forceful you are beautifully obliterated.

     Now the march is over and so is the feeling of swell and stretch. I'm back by myself again, in myself again, my singularity so defined I imagine my body is outlined in ink. I spend, it is true, huge swaths of time alone. Lately, in these quiet times when I can hear the dripping of icicles from the eaves and the sound of foxes singing in the field that stretches in front of the house, where the darkness is dense and the river is black in the night, lately I have been mulling over this march and wondering how it might be possible to preserve the energy of that moment and of that day. True, I only felt fully transcendent for some seconds but the whole march was still glorious, even the ride into Boston when we saw people carrying signs miles and miles from the meeting spot, and when we saw the public transport, each car so crammed with people that we could not get on for some time. It was a world unifying day. The public transport, overwhelmed with users, forgot their fares and let everyone on for free. The march site was lined with policemen, some of whom pumped their fists in agreement when we passed while a black man sitting in a garbage truck pulled the cord so his horn blared in solidarity. Perhaps the most beautiful part of the march, aside from the muscle feeling, perhaps the most beautiful part was when we passed the Unitarian Universalist church and saw, way up in the cathedral, the keeper of the bells who began to first just chime them and then to actually play them, the bells pealing out one of my favorite songs: Amazing Grace, and way below, on the pavement, the people began to sing. The bells had a beautiful sound and even though their player was many stories up we could see him pulling their strings and straps, and in this way coaxing melody from their bronze bodies. 

     How, I wonder, will we keep the unity that the march day proved was possible? Later on, at home, I saw on the web pictures of the hundreds of sister marches from all over the world and it was awesome. I saw people cutting through the freezing cold in Alaska, their faces half hidden in pulled-up parkas, but their signs obvious and full of feeling. I saw marchers in New Zealand and marchers in Australia and marches in Chicago and Cleveland and France, and almost all of Europe. How it happened I cannot say. How did it happen that for a day millions of people, without any overt organizing force, came together to speak out against the values and intentions our president has? It feels difficult to manage twenty people, never mind millions, and yet millions marched on every continent, the force to do so just growing up through the ground, and, in the process, illustrating just how powerful a grassroots movement can be. I'd like to harness all that energy, all that outrage, all those pink knit hats, but at the end of the day everyone dispersed, sucked into singularity again. I don't know how to preserve the power of that day, how to take the march and make of it a movement that goes forward into the future; my hope is there are people out there who in fact do know how to do this and are working on it as I write. This is my own infinitesimally small action on behalf of that movement which may or may not have begun. Trump is president of my country. I want to feel the force of a real resistance. It's dark outside now, full on night, and soon the owls will begin to talk amongst themselves in the trees that line the lane to the house where I am staying. Ever since his election the world has felt different to me, tilted and more ominous than usual. I love to hear the owls talk and the foxes sing, to see the blackness of the river running because it proves to me that there still exist beings who are entirely outside of Trump's tethers, outside of Trump's control, parts of the world, right under my nose, where a wild beauty reigns, threatened and robust at the exact same time.

 

 

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