We all have public, private and secret lives. Every. Single. One of us.
So what does it mean to know someone? To know someone? To know someone? What does it mean to know yourself? It’s amazing how much time we spend trying to figure ourselves out. It’s amazing…but it’s not crazy.
There is so much that we’re exposed to now that didn’t exist before (or if it did, we never had access to it) that we are constantly having to reconcile new information with who we are–with our construct of ourself.
Are we liberal or are we conservative?
Are we a believer or are we a skeptic?
Do we secretly yearn for greatness or do we embrace humble observation?
Do we want to be out there and connected or should we cling protectively to our private self?
And how the hell did we get this way? What the hell made us so?
As much as the overuse of dead-guy quotes make me tired, William Faulkner articulated something so perfectly when he wrote:
“The past is not dead. It isn’t even past.”
It is the context of the feminism debate that I became curious why I so publicly and comfortably call myself a feminist, and, perhaps more curiously, how I privately became one. This is how I found myself on my most recent messy mission of dumpster diving my life.
Where were you in the summer of 1972? Maybe you weren’t even yet a hot idea on a hot summer day, or maybe you were out making that hot idea a reality.
I spent that hot summer as a junior member of the Groovy, West Side Women’s Libbers. My mom was a full-fledged member and she, as an avowed non-smoker, had her own long, cigarette holder with unlit cigarette and wore shiny, white boots that elevated her to Goldie Hawn on Laugh In status.
As my mom’s sidekick, I learned about lava lamps and the ERA. I learned about Vietnam, and Gloria Steinem and, as a junior women’s libber, I learned how to be a woman. There was private stuff–lots of private stuff. There was Toni who was scheming to open her very own salon and Linda who had been a real-live go-go dancer. There was Margo who hated men a little too much and Martha who loved men a little too often. At the Groovy Women’s Libber meetings I got to call her, Carol, but when we got home she was just mom.
It was during those transitional car rides from Carol back to mom that I began to understand that we all have public lives, private lives and secret lives. It’s fascinating. And it’s what makes us fascinating. These lives are also the key ingredient in our recipe for connecting with others. It’s what allows us to roar with laughter at a joke in one context and shake our heads with distain at the same joke in a different crowd. And like our newfound need to understand the ingredients in the foods we eat in order to understand what makes us healthy, we need to understand where these lives come from to understand ourselves…and how we relate to others. The process of delving into what makes us who we are takes time, skill and bravery. The process of overcoming viewpoint stagnation in order to understand what makes others who they are, can change the world.
We would come home from our women’s libber meetings and my mom would slip off her long, sexy boots and slip on her big, fuzzy slippers and slither over to my father who was roaring in front of the rabbit-eared TV at Archie Bunker’s antics. She told him everything. They would laugh and laugh as she rehashed the evening and I was right there with them…a seven year old baseball card collecting & playing, boyish and boy-crazy, women’s libber insider. I saw my skinny, funny mom loving my dad and sharing her hatred for the way women were treated. I saw my beefy, ex-semi pro athlete of a burly dad, become a feminist.
When I went back to school at the end of that summer I knew what Title IX could do for a young sporty spice like me, and I knew what access to birth control could do for my future spicy sport self. Whatever the label, the controversy, the specific issues, I knew that I was a feminist.
What stories and artifacts have you tossed into the dumpster of your life? Might these be vital tidbits be the clues to uncovering who the hell you are and what the hell made it so? What made you love who you love? What made you a believer? What made you disbelieve what so many others in the world believe? What created your opinions and your biases? What things have you tossed in the dumpster of your life while embracing the addiction to authenticity? What is authenticity? Could it be hiding in that dumpster? And how do you dive back into that dumpster and pull out that precious garbage without getting too messy?
Now as we continue our quest to figure out who we are, we do so with a deluge of data informing our every decision. But there’s a hitch. Once we’ve formulated a construct of ourselves, we filter this data selectively and often unknowingly. We see a Facebook posting, Tweet or email from someone on MSN and we automatically categorize the content differently than if the very same information came from Fox News. The voracity with which we believe (and pass on the information) will be determined by a moment in our history. A moment often found in a dumpster.
So yah, I’m a feminist. Even now, in almost 2015, when the label is still strangely, wonderfully, and wildly controversial. And yet this isn’t a stroll down vagina lane.
This is a hope for a greater scrutiny of who we are in a more authentic (there’s that word) place of scrutiny. A purposely and accidentally forgotten garbage bin of person-making badness and juicy goodness. The secret is that only in diving deep can we connect deeply.
Can you dig it?
In the next few months this blog will grow and gravitate to www.BeckiSaltzman.com as we embark on an amazingly exciting (at least to me) project called The Living Curiously Lifestyle. Hit me up if you think you may want to join the growing number standing together in The Tribe of the Curious.