I’m starting my Friday the way I’ve started every day for the past week: brushing my teeth (difficult because I can’t bend over to spit in the sink), sitting on the couch (well-equipped with multiple pillows and blankets for maximum comfort), washing down my morning pain medication with iced coffee (who needs water?), and listening to music. I have to say – aside from the always-dull-and-sometimes-sharp pain in my chest and back – I’m enjoying having the time and space for these slow mornings. In my dreams of retirement this is how I spend each morning, though maybe I’ll have to substitute the coffee for decaf, and ideally I’m in a log cabin in the mountains (and will I even be able to retire in this economy?!).
This morning I’m listening to one of the most beautiful songs dans le monde:
This song feels like a secret that I’ve kept hidden away in some deep corner of my heart… the kind of secret, like a hidden trail in the mountains, that you simultaneously want others to experience the magic of but also don’t want to give away because it feels like losing a part of yourself?
Every time I listen to this song I’m overwhelmed by the power and emotion and incredible beauty that Joan produces from nothing but an acoustic guitar and her voice, the closest humans will ever come to making true magic…
And then I think about this woman, this one woman, and how I wish I were so beautiful, and how there are so many beautiful women in this world making magic, small and tender magic, loud and powerful magic, some of which will be recognized but most of which the world will never see, confined to their minds and souls and maybe sometimes shared with those closest to their hearts.
I hate that women have been reduced to external beauty. I hate that we as women have reduced ourselves to external beauty. F*ck the modeling industry and the media and superficiality and Instagram and any place where a woman’s body replaces her mind as the voice people listen to. I despise the society that forces this superficial beauty on us; but, even more so, I am angry that we often force it in ourselves; that women take pictures and sell bikinis and sports bras and an image of themselves to other women.
Women like Joan Armitrading and Jane Goodall and Toni Morrison and Ida B. Wells and Ada Lovelace and Patti Smith and Nina Simone and Billie Jean King and my best friends and the barista who greets me my name every morning at Starbucks and my grandmother and the mother sitting with her kids on the bus on their way to school and all the little girls writing poetry in their bedroom are who come to mind when I think of beautiful women. I feel lucky whenever I get to experience the power and depth and passion of these women, and am angered and saddened when I think about all the other beautiful women whose souls I haven’t gotten to know because they’ve been silenced or afraid or forgotten. As I share my thoughts here I think of women who have so much more to say, so much that needs to be heard but isn’t, and I wish I had a voice like Joan’s or a heart like that mother on the bus or a brain like Maya Angelou’s and I want to know them all. I don’t want to see another picture in a magazine, I don’t want to watch as a woman congratulates another women for being “beautiful” on a post on social media. I want us to know these women, to know all women, to recognize their real beauty.