{letting it go}

Kelvingrove Museum D 586

Ooh, A Harpy! Possibly a Screeching Harpy of Tolerance…?

Jacqueline Woodson is a class act.

This truth reverberates in my head more and more frequently, as I recall the hideous insult Ms. Woodson was offered at the National Book Awards, and how she just… didn’t… acknowledge it. Until she had thought. Until she was ready. Until she had taken a breath, taken some time, taken herself away to compose her words before she spoke them.

We should all be so classy.

It is easy to be angry — I’m learning this, in a crash course, on Twitter this week. It is easy to be annoyed, and to dwell in this place of futile fury, all day, every day. But it is less simple to be …classy. Thoughtful. Reasoned. It is less easy to take a step back out of abrasive snarkiness, when ignorance rises up to confront you for the 4958,509,505,280,948,56th time. It is less easy to retract smashed toes when they’re stepped on, to refuse reaction when utter bull is spattered about and slung. And so few of us do.

This isn’t a criticism of anyone — how everyone handles their stuff is on them. But… maybe it is because I am… older and worn out with knowing, I sense how little my boiling fury actually matters. Maybe it’s because I was muted and screaming inside for much of my childhood and young adulthood that I doubt the power of my shrilly raised voice. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen how little the game is changed by throwing the bat. I prefer to think that it’s just that I have seen what class looks like. I have seen “cultured.” I have observed character. And – even when I am infuriated — especially when I am infuriated — I want some of that reserve, that culture, that class.

The world is changing — never quickly, never skipping any of the boring parts that we wish we could — but change is immeasurably shifting the cultural landscape. New ideas matter to more people; broader dreams are being dreamed while we’re awake. People are identifying their privilege and turning to offer understanding and support to people whose voices are underrepresented. It’s still America, thus not a happy, arms-linked chorus of “It’s A Small World,” by any means, but my circle is filled with bright, determined people, and we all are the fulcrum on which the future pivots. At times, there is grit in the mechanism, and we have to push harder, believe more strongly, speak more clearly, to make the change happen – but I am happy to put my energies toward the trying. No more flailing. No more shrieking. No more paralysis of despair. Today, I am letting go of anger, though tomorrow I may take it up again. But, while my hands are free, I am putting them to use, reaching for wiser, better things.

4 Replies to “{letting it go}”

  1. I think I’m glad I have no idea what this week’s uproar on Twitter is! Yes, on the class act. I can be queen of the quick comeback, which is NOT the best way to respond to seriously hurtful things. I love that you are putting your hands–and your voice–to beautiful use.

    1. Hah, as if there were just one! It’s the Weekly Battles that wear me out. Seriously, there’s SO. Much. Anger. And all of us together in one room become increasingly echo-chamber-y. And yet, I’ve read a lot and learned a lot, too. Just desperately seeking balance, trying to find my feet…

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