Ascension: the act of rising or ascending; especially the act of moving to a higher or more powerful position
"Hey, excuse me, what's up with the turquoise ladder?"
As members of our group took the opportunity to hold the ladder high in the air amidst the sea of people in DC this past weekend, we reveled in the freedom that comes with redefining ourselves, along with our hopes,fears, and dreams, in the moment/through the moment/by the moment. Depending on our own individual sense of connection to the inquirer and the symbol itself, or level of introversion-extroversion-compression-expansion being experienced in the moment, here are some of the responses I heard either myself or others in our circle offer to this query:
"If we couldn't shatter the glass ceiling, maybe we should attempt climbing on the roof."
"Whatever you would like for it to mean."
"There were too many words and thoughts and issues swirling to make a sign so this symbol that means a lot to us personally is representing them all."
"What do you see it standing for?"
"There is a great climb ahead and it will take each of us to either steady the ladder as someone else climbs or take the steps ourselves". (And turquoise is the color of protection for the climb)
"It is to help us see a brighter horizon."
"Its a symbol of ascension."
And who possessed these inquiring minds? Quite a few scientists came up and said with great anticipation, "are you representing DNA?" This made me laugh and I would say "Yes, for you, I am representing DNA." However, my own radar was tuned into those whose life boat in times of internalizing and then uprising is art. I felt us share a breath, as their eyes raised up to the ladder, a fleeting refuge from the cacophony of powerful words filling the air. This shared breath I dedicated to the journey(s) of discovering our own insights, creating our own meaning, claiming our own space, and the right to not have to explain or justify ourselves/our desires/our suffering/our restoration process to anyone around us. I felt solidarity in the inherent knowing that the wordless experience amidst a march with such incredible displays of wordy art is also to be greatly respected as there are so many of us who are currently experiencing or witnessing words being used as swords back at us, when we are most vulnerable and tired, and while we are grasping for the strength to RISE.
At one point in the day, while holding my ladder under my arm, I ran up alongside a woman carrying a sign that said "There are so many things that need fixing that I don't know which words to put on my sign" And then across the bottom was a list including misogyny/racism/fascism/hypocrisy and many more words charged with assaulting properties. I said to her, "Thank you for putting words to my symbol" and she said "Thank you for putting a symbol to my words".
There was a moment in the day when we had to surrender the ladder from our possession temporarily, along with the deeply personal signs of my dear friends, to enter the National Gallery of Art for a much needed reprieve. We stashed them next to the revolving entry door, amidst all of the hundreds and hundreds of other totems of personal expression. When we returned to reclaim and begin the actual march, we began to find the trampled disassembled pieces of it, buried. I feel tremendous gratitude to my two friends who helped me salvage all eight pieces of the ladder. We returned to our group, with disappointment to have not been able to retrieve everyone's sign, and together we reassembled the ladder. It rose again, extending higher this time. I felt that familiar current of energy that is able to course when my backbone is aligned. I envisioned a phoenix perched at the top leading us on our route all the way to the Capitol Building and on to The White House. And on that empowering walk, what rose up as my next guidepost was not a word or an image. It was a feeling, deep within, that gave way to a sound. A rumble in the belly that ascended to the heart and then the throat and released as a ROAR.
So, for all of us word lovers who are struggling with words right now, what other sources of inspiration and guidance can we tune into/hold onto/reclaim to help us harness and give release and a sense of personal expression to what is rising up in us?
There are many people that I love and respect who are currently posing the critical question of what action are we going to engage in once the buzz of the marching wears off. Very important question.
In the work in which I am engaged in the world, we often talk about the power of symbols/logos/images and how they wield power. What I am left wondering after returning home is how do our symbols guide us to reverently convert the power we bestow upon them into action or substantive form? For me, I find myself thinking once again of the children's story quote that has guided me so many times when I feel like I am being rushed through an important process and I start to lose my balance. "Can't go under it, can't go over it, can't go around it, have to go through it".
I simply don't know yet, in tangible, conscious form what this deeply moving collection of experiences is going to give rise to. But I know, for me, it will involve a process of continual re-alignment. It will start with honestly visualizing the horizon that I am setting my sights on, defining the core values that scaffold that vision, and then allowing these values to inform and align my daily actions and interactions. And, simultaneously, I am committing to not being afraid to pilot actions today that I don't have to defend/proclaim/or even fully understand but that I trust, in the absence of words, are aligned.
What I feel most deeply, today, is that the journey ahead starts with really listening to ourselves, finding ways to distill, then clear the chatter of our own hearts and minds, and then: listen. listen. listen. (And in the meantime, I will work to deepen my relationship with the concept of paradox as I feel certain that wrestles and revelations within this concept are at the heart of the climb ahead.)
So, here is the above story told through some images: