Walking before writing is my routine. The three-mile jaunt generates ideas. On today’s round, I noted the American flag at our community’s gate was flying at half-mast. Two conflicting ideas came to mind: disbelief that not one, but two, mass shootings happened within a weekend in El Paso and Dayton; and, irritation that the Basket Posture Song was fighting for my attention, too.
As I continued past the pond that fed into Ruby Lake, I noted the cypress trees lining the water were mirrored in it. I, too, felt like I was beginning to numb out reading comments on social media regarding the shootings. On one friend’s post someone noted I’m watching the last season of America. Many agreed. The counterpoint I made on the thread was that many responding were writers. Moreover, we could use our craft, our words, to create the changes we longed for in our country.
Returning home, I Google searched lyrics see me walk so straight and tall. It took me to a YouTube video of a familiar Romper Room LP (long play record album). I captioned the video for the lyrics.
See me walk so straight and tall,
I won’t let my basket fall.
Eyes ahead. Won’t look down.
Keep that basket off the ground.
It wasn’t the first stanza, but the second that made me realize why I was trying to recall the words:
Watch me hold my head up high
Like a soldier marching by.
A back that’s straight and strong you see
Helps to make a stronger me.
Women, I began to understand, are vessels for change. Whether we imagine baskets, water jars, or pitchers, we hold much more than we realize. We bear our own stories as well as others. And, we pour ourselves out to our significant others, families, friends, and strangers as needed. We replenish ourselves with time spent in kitchen table groups, as well as summer and regional conferences. Or, simply alone. But during double mass shootings, we might feel cracked – that we cannot hold any more.
Yet, we can. We return to our journals. We find time for ourselves in nature, if only a stroll in the park. Being there for ourselves, we fill those perceived cracks with our own shimmering words. We understand that the Japanese art of kintsugi – repairing broken objects’ cracks with gold – is available to us, too, as women vessels.
Restoring enables us to write and speak with authority instead of rage. We center, balance, and breathe our truths. And, as we do, we encourage others to do the same. We know that to stand tall, keeping eyes ahead, re-enforces our actions better than verbosity.
Courage requires a strong back to answer the call to write editorials, phone Congress, or march in the streets. We women vessels may be called basket cases, but we do not let name calling upset us. We’ve practiced our posture. It has helped make a stronger me. And you, too.
Marisa Moks-Unger is a social activist, author, poet, and small business owner, who walks before dawn to beat the heat of the Florida sun. She has recently joined the IWWG’s team as a board member.