Yesterday I travelled on the train to London to be with Big Love Sista and Big Love Little Sista at 1 Billion Rising.
The event was held to highlight the issue of rape and violence against women and children.
The day was awesome and one that I'm sure will still be affecting me even when I'm wrinkly!
On the bus home I noticed - probably because I've experienced life as both a man and a woman - the difference between socialising with men and socialising with women. Then wrote about it on Facebook this morning and went to have a shower.
Thankfully, no one had commented on it by the time I came back from my shower so I'm hoping what I wrote went unnoticed for, during the course of my shower, I realised I was comparing the best of women against the worst of men and that, if what I wrote was true, I would've been the only woman who thought yesterday was awesome (which I wasn't! Not by a long chalk!) and, furthermore, there would be no need for Big Love Sista, Big Love Little Sista or 1 Billion Rising!
Then I pondered upon something that we were instructed to do at Gather The Women: when you find yourself judging others, consider what that judgement says about yourself.
From which I concluded that the main point of my conclusion from yesterday was about the embracement of love: that I need and respond to love and when I'm denied it, I suffer. That love is not a weakness but a power and nothing empowers me like love empowers me. It was love that got me through the final years of John's life and it's love that gets me through grief and widowhood. It's love that makes the days sparkle and it's the giving and sharing of love that makes me feel like I'm dancing on air!
Whilst I'm on the subject of love, let me mention the Sting song, If You Love Somebody Set Them Free.
I believe it is true that, if I love somebody, the greatest gift I can give them is to set them free - free of expectation, free to be themselves.
However, Sting did not sing If You Love Somebody Else Set Them Free!
Possibly because this truth is personal as well. If I love myself, then the greatest gift I can give myself is to set myself free of expectation; allow myself the freedom to be myself!
Too often I have beat myself up over standards I have set myself. But I am not perfection personified! I am not lovely! I am not horrible! I am not anything but a human called Claire! Why do I deny myself the mercy to be just that?!!
So it was from looking at myself that I was able to reach these truths - personal truths that are perhaps applicable universally.
And that is what I think perhaps Simon Armitage was driving at when Amanda and I saw him read some of his poems at The Everyman on Thursday.
He said something along the lines of that when you try to write universally, it can often miss the mark; but when you write about the personal things, it can perhaps mean something universally.
After all, I do not live in anyone else's body, living their experiences, drawing conclusions for them!
But that does not mean that my personal experiences mean nothing to them.
For example, I can state that transitioning was one of the best things I've ever done in my life and, perhaps, someone would draw inspiration from that but it would be an utter fallacy to say that transitioning is one of the best things any Trans person can ever do! It might be an absolute disaster!
Despite this, though, the universal experience does seem to be expected of minorities!
For example, one of the performers at 1 Billion Rising yesterday, was a muslim comedian and she related to us how people would often expect her to speak on behalf of "Your lot"! Even though 'her lot' would often wish she'd "just shut the fuck up"!
I have experienced this myself as a Trans woman. People often throw "You Trans people" or "So Trans people, then, are they..." into a sentence when speaking to me, as though we could only ever have one universal experience!
It's a trap I fall into myself - even when I try to quantify it by saying "most Trans people".
Why do I not have the confidence to simply speak about myself, rather than trying to add credence to it by saying it is the experience of "most Trans people"?
At what point do you or I decide enough people are suffering before we will act in response to it?!!
You and I do not need permission from anyone else to care!
So why can we not keep it personal?
Ode To A Paper Cup
I saw you at a children's party communicating to your sibling via a length of string
I saw you at a business meeting full of warming liquid (I hasten to say tea) that warmed my insides
I saw you discarded outside McDonald's with drops of cola dribbling out of you like blood onto the pavement
I saw you at the feet of a homeless guy, acting as a receptacle for pity from passing strangers
And I saw you disappear when he needed a piss!
Then reappear amongst your brethren on the tip, trying to hide from the hungry seagulls
Oh, paper cup, you've had a life!