The Women’s March on Washington
After the election, I wasn’t going to go. I was always interested. But, I’d written it off.
I’m too introverted. Too busy. I could just march near my hometown. It would just be easier to be supportive from a more comfortable standpoint.
But comfort and my own needs are so not what this is about.
The Women’s March.
A little voice kept talking to me. Inside my head.
I need to live my intentions. I need to live my values. The time is not when. The time is not if. The time is now. No matter what reservations I have. No matter how I feel. Introversion – whatever. Discomfort? Well, you should be used to discomfort.
I posted a video on my Facebook feed about what folks needed to know for the march. I wasn’t going. But I was supportive.
C’mon. You’ve wanted to go since the beginning. This is it. This is your moment to walk your talk. Look at the comments you’re getting.
A friend commented. “I might have a cabin.”
My senses perked up. A cabin?
If this works, this could be epic. It will mean I was meant to go. Don’t get attached to the outcome if you go or not. Even though your heart wants to go. Needs to go.
I got a message a day later that the cabin didn’t work out. But an acquaintance said she had space in her car and needed help with the hotel room.
Great! I’ll message my phone number. This could work. But, what if it doesn’t? It’ll be the second thing that doesn’t work. Maintain calm. Don’t get attached to the outcome. If I’m supposed to go, my intentions and actions will come together. In effect, I’ll be in the right place at the right time.
It turns out, I never heard from that acquaintance. Chalk it up to busy-ness, or just not knowing that person well enough, but two days passed and now it was six days before the march.
My heart was feeling the need to go, more than ever. With two possibilities falling through, would this happen?
Then husby heard Pannavati on NPR. How she said we need to ‘walk our talk.’ You see, she’s an African American Buddhist nun. (Her story is incredible…she started out as a Christian minister!)
She said that they had a bus going. That there was space.
Then, husby told me about it. My heart begin to hope against hope.
Third time the charm?
You need to call. There will be space. This is going to happen. Surreal? Yes. But necessary. You need to do this, even if you won’t have time to blog and go to the grocery store like I usually do, to stock up for the week. You need to do this even if you won’t get all your laundry done for the workweek. You need to do this even if you feel exhausted.
I just happened to have some money left over from the holidays. I had set aside some other funds for worthy causes.
This was a worthy cause.
When I called, there was still space. With three days to go before the march, I found a bus with space and a whole itinerary for the weekend with an incredible human leading the adventure.
Things lined up! Synchronicity at its best. What’s meant to be is meant to be.
But why did this mean so much to me?
My intentions were to do more for those who need help. I want to do more for the downtrodden and empower them.
I work with immigrant families every day. The new president has alluded to targeting them. I cannot stand by and let this happen.
The Latino part of me had to stand up. For those who never learned English even they’ve been in the US since before the Mexican American War. For those who don’t know English and are escaping life-threatening poverty or war or a decimated economy and are recent arrivals to the US.
No human is illegal.
It wasn’t only that, though.
I marched for those whose religions aren’t part of the mainstream. This includes me – a spiritually independent person. I honor all religions and no religion, agnosticism and atheism. All need to be respected.
I wanted to march for the impoverished among us who work so many hours for such little pay.
I wanted to march for every single marginalized group that, for so, so, long still continue to feel oppression and ostracism.
I wanted to march for those who didn’t understand or didn’t care about the march.
I wanted to march for those who have different viewpoints than me. I might exercise my right to assembly for them.
I wanted to march symbolically because I believe in the dignity and sanctity of every human and every living thing (even if it’s hard to really like the crocodiles or pythons that exist – they have their place).
It became a way to stand up for what I believe in.
After working all day on Friday, I ran home and packed and drove another hour to where the bus would be loading.
Nearly 50 of us piled in and rolled out of Hendersonville, NC at 9:35 pm on Friday night – January 20.
We drove all night, and most of us slept fitfully at best. We got to Fredericksburg, VA at 5:30 in the morning and got breakfast.
As we continued on toward Washington, DC, everything started taking on a whole different momentum.
The interstate was packed with other buses of people ferrying into town. I’d look and see entire busloads of fellow women wearing their characteristic pink pussy hats. All buses had people that waved at ours and we waved back.
We disembarked at the south end of Washington, DC – the closet place for us where buses had permits to get into town for the march.
We trekked alongside the growing line of fellow marchers as we walked toward the end of it for the metro. The whole way we were cheered for being there. People shared their signs, smiles and hugs.
We waited in line for nearly two hours. After boarding, we waited another hour as scores of people boarded at each stop. The metro authority had to close several of the stops due to overcrowding.
At no point were we angry: so many fellow marchers and supporters were sitting with us who had their own stories to share, signs to wave and pink hats to don. The mood was hopeful – peacefully defiant, even.
I likened our experience to being a tributary that would join forces with the pink river of fellow supporters.
After three hours had elapsed, we finally arrived at a metro station near our destination. It was still a walk. But, just as well: seeing the signs, the costumes, the women, the solidarity only reinforced my desire to be there.
We marched all afternoon. At the National Mall, we met up with a friend who would later prove that she not only had a heart of gold, but who also helped us navigate the complexities of metro stops, Uber drivers and freeways that make up Washington, DC.
Many other groups were part of the march: LGBTQIA, Latinos, Native American Indians, African Americans, and so, so many women. So many of us came together to unite for diversity, unity and equality.
It was synchronicity that allowed us to meet up with her; I had other friends I wanted to meet and navigating the crowds and streets was difficult at best. We all quickly realized that it would be impossible to trek through the crowds and streams of people to try to find each other at an exact time.
Yet we were able to meet up with this beautiful soul who came with water, phone chargers, and an encyclopedia of information about Washington.
I had no idea how to navigate the metro, where I was going, or how to get back to the bus. But somehow I ended up with folks who had intimate knowledge of the city and led me wherever we needed to go. I never had any qualms that this would all work out.
We had to leave too soon: at 4pm due to the metro system’s limitations.
But I wouldn’t take the metro again.
It turns out, I had my first Uber ride when we got a glimpse of the crowds lining up to try to return to their buses. Only a few minutes after summoning our Uber ride, we drove by the Pentagon, the Air Force Memorial, and other notable places of interest. (I will go back someday to actually visit these places.)
My heart swelled and I don’t think I ever stopped smiling at the unity, the power and the camaraderie I felt the whole time during the march.
I knew the march was only the beginning.
The beginning of an era where I know we will overcome.
We will overcome the notion that skin color matters.
Or that someone’s religious belief system matters more than someone else’s.
We will overcome the notion that any one person is better than anyone else.
This is it. This is the test of our resolve as humanity. The earth is reaching its tipping point. Will you stand by as humanity stands on the brink, or will you use your voice to connect with your inner being and try to change it? Will you stand by and do nothing, or will you act in accordance with your heart?
That is why the march became a spiritual endeavor for me.
I chose my heart. I chose to sacrifice my comfort and my aversion to crowds to make a statement. Any “leader” who singles out groups of people based on playing on people’s fears is not a leader.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve thought about staging a meditation in front of my town’s courthouse. But that’s either a bit crazy or it’s not crazy enough. But I resolve to stand by my beliefs.
If this march was any indication of the power that humanity has when it unites against nefarious forces, it is unstoppable.
On that bus with me were three women who were mother, daughter and granddaughter – three generations! Four sisters – all over the age of 55 were with me. Married couples, single men and a sweet friend I met on my meditation retreat last summer were all there. We didn’t know each other but by the end of our trip, we were exchanging emails and Facebook friend requests. We were giving each other hugs and best wishes.
We were all together 48 hours. But those 48 hours changed my life and I became a part of herstory. The rest of the women and their supporters helped to make a statement that we will not stand by idly when it comes to the equal rights of others.
Whatever you do, make sure it helps people. Make sure that its purpose is to help the downtrodden and fight for what’s right. Fight for equality. Fight for love. Spread love. Be love and compassion. Be a light to other people.
That voice. That voice in my head that, as I continue to meditate, seems to gently push me in the direction I need to go. It seems to be getting a little wiser, too.
I’m still doing my meditation experiment. I only missed one session on this trip: when we stopped for breakfast so early in the morning. I managed to fit all my other meditations in and interesting things are happening.
As for my fellow bloggers and readers, I am a little behind in posting. I’m behind in commenting. But I promise to catch up soon!