The Stars Are Fire, So Dance!
Today, my hometown celebrates the art and industry that puts bread on our tables and fosters dreams in millions of hearts. It’s the Academy Awards, and many of us are rooting for our favorite dreamweavers to walk away with the gold statuette aprocryphally dubbed “Oscar” because of its resemblance to an Academy librarian’s Uncle Oscar.
I’m rooting for Beasts of the Southern Wild, a fantastical homage to our link with all living things and the fierce and fertile Earth that sustains us. Playwright and screenwriter Lucy Alibar’s protagonist Hushpuppy has several things in common with The History of My Body’s Fleur, who might be seen as the sky to Hushpuppy’s earth. They are both intuitively wise children, adoring of animals and attuned to the rhythms of the natural world, and, in suffering terrible loss, they have much to learn – and teach – about the wisdom of love.
On March 23, I’ll be signing books and speaking about what writing the character of Fleur taught me about love and loneliness, quantum physics and the quirks of Nobel prizewinners at the Whittier College Bookfaire. (I'd sure love to meet you and hope you can come!)
But getting back to Hushpuppy, she is played by Quvenzhané Wallis, who has to be the most intuitively gifted six-year-old actress ever and a star in the original meaning of the word. The word “star” is derived from the Greek “aster,” a root shared with the kind of asteroid that spawned the meteor that injured a thousand Russians a few weeks ago. What I think of as “true stars” impact our lives powerfully, not for the spoiled and screwed up antics they get up to and the ridiculous amounts of money they’re paid, but for shaking us up and initiating us into a deeper appreciation of what it is to be incarnate and at least somewhat conscious beings, subject to mortality and inhabiting a planet hurtling through space.
The empowering and yet humbling wisdom that we learn from both Hushpuppy and Fleur is that we’re not alone. If there's anything we need to remember in times like ours it's that there's so much more that unites us than divides us. We’ve seen some glorious expressions of that awareness this month. One occurred on February 17, when 50,000 souls gathered for the Climate Forward Rally at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It was the largest climate rally in history – sponsored by the Sierra Club, 350.org, and Hip Hop Caucus. They were united in the recognition that we quite literally sink or swim together, that the Earth is our shared home, the living mandala that brings forth life and death, affect and image from her rich womb. They were united against unconscious matricide, the murder of our common Mother. They were united on behalf of our ancestors and future generations. Many of them traveled very far to do this, taking time from their busy lives and reaching into their pockets to get there. I am so grateful to them!
For many years, I was intimidated by the ferocity and combativeness of political debate in my home, at school, and on T.V. I often felt that the arguments emanated from above the neck – that the body was being left out of the body politic. This, I believe, is where women – and the feminine in men - come in. This month on Valentine’s Day, in a synchronistic counterpart to the Climate Forward Rally, a worldwide action against violence against women called One Billion Rising flowered from the fertile imagination of Eve Ensler, creator of The Vagina Monologues.
The number "one billion" represents the number of women who have been raped or beaten in their lifetimes. People across the globe – young and old, female and male, from Chicago to Mumbai, Congo to Singapore to a prison in San Francisco – participated in dancing flash mobs to the tune of Tena Clark’s signature song: “One Billion Rising – Break theChain.” Women – and girls like Hushpuppy and Fleur – have so much to contribute to the evolution of a soul-rooted, healing, humanized, and embodied political discourse!
We Jungian Analysts know that if we work deeply enough on our personal wounds and aspirations, we’re ultimately led past ourselves into the archetypal dimension – what we share with all human beings who’ve ever lived and who ever will. I believe that if we reflect deeply enough on what makes a film a true contribution to our lives or what are the political issues that really matter to us, we approach that intersection between our individual selves and the World Soul.
If, like me, you find yourself curled on the couch tonight with a nice, big bowl of popcorn, take a moment to reflect on how YOU are a star in the life of our planet and in the hearts of those who know you, and let yourself imagine how you’d like to more fully make your own conscious impact on the soul of our world. From Fleur to me to you: I urge you to go for it! Tackle that novel that’s been bumping around the corners of your mind, go back and get the degree you never finished, pen that letter to the editor you’ve been itching to write, save an orphaned animal, tell all the people you love that you love them.
And, during the commercial breaks, shake off your blues that the right folks didn't get the awards you wanted them to (or, better yet, rise up in your joy that they did), and get up offa that thing and dance!