A male colleague invited me and my colleague to lunch. His treat. My female colleague was hesitant. She said she has to finish something. “We’ll wait for you”, I said. Downstairs at the cafeteria, she asked me “what to do? My feminism is struggling with it”. My response was “Life is generous and generosity has many forms. This is just one of them. It’s your choice whether to accept it with gratitude.” She liked the perspective and accepted it.
It was a terriffic lunch. We talked about food, places to visit when his family is in town and best places to take his family out for dinner. We exchanged our impressions from our trips to France. We responded to his generosity with our generous knowledge of local culture. It’s mutual. Always. Generosity attracts generosity.
What does feminism have to do with who pays for lunches anyway? In one of its many definitions, feminism fights for everyone’s freedom to pursue happiness. It is totally fine, if refusing a treat from a colleague based on your beliefs makes you happy. An offer to buy me lunch has never meant that I was perceived as unable to pay for myself or that any of my abilities were disregarded. Quite the opposite.
A feminist is someone who believes in equality between the genders, reads another definition. Feminism is also about generosity to me. Money saved from the lunch paid by our colleague goes to a lunch for a homeless or a less fortunate one. It’ s going beyound and above the bubble we place ourselves in for the sake of bellonging to a social structure. These bubbles are a bit of luxuries. Once a single mother of five living a poor but dignified life told me: “you may perhaps afford all this feminist talk. I cannot. I have five mouths to feed.” And she is right. A female begger will unlikely object to a treat from a male just because the two of them belong to different genders. Or she may refuse it and hope that her own gender would be as generous and would not do it out of superiority of any kind.
Generosity is gender blind and I sure hope it will stay that way.
Feminism stems originally from a struggle, an opposition, a fight. For the sake of wisdom, I would like to believe we are over it and feminist or feminine we are simply grateful and generous with each other in all of our human interactions.
“Dear friends, would you like to join me for breakfast tomorrow, on Sunday? I have at least three reasons to celebrate:)” reads my email to my friends.
Earlier this week, they were the ones who said I should celebrate it when I shared the news about my master diploma. Fully taken by my daily duties, I left unmarked the moment i received the University’s confirmation that I met all the diploma requirements.
My friends’ support on the last stages of my dissertation and their natural joyful celebration mood made me think “Why do we need reasons to celebrate?” Reason is a function of the brain. Celebration is more from the heartland. Left to my brain, my master diploma is a fait acoompli and I should be heading to another challenge. “What’s next?” is already implanted in my mind. Pausing a bit, only my heart knows how it actually felt to raise a baby, have a full time job and study for my second master’s, all at the same time. I owe a big celebration to my heart for all of it. I owe it to myself, my wise friends told me.
A month after her birthday, my kid said she wants a Spring birthday party, and a Summer birthday party and an Autumn one. Indeed, who said there should be only one birthday party a year?! She does not have yet an adult perception of time and of a calendar. She does not need to look for a reason. The reason is always there. She is the reason and this is more than enough.
We wait and postpone. Other commitments take over. Accomplishments become info on a resume or a life event we put on our facebook wall. We look back and wonder how was our last month, last summer, last year, or last ten years…It can be a little fuzzy, isn’t it?’
To acknowledge an event or an achievement one does not always need a social gathering or expensive champaign ( which is nice from time to time) or anything very elaborate. Sometimes a simple “Thank you” ritual, a cup of tea shared with loved ones, couple of volunteer time hours, time to yourself indulging on your favorite pastime, paint a figurine, anything you choose to mark and cherish what you did to materialize your aspirations and how this made a better you, is memorable. Count your blessings, they say. Small or big they are yours. Observe them, mark and honour them in any way you like. You’ll see little stars appearing on your life board, joining in constellations and galaxies to brighten your life.
My Sunday breakfast turned into a celebration of the three of us. My master diploma was one reason to celebrate. “What are the other two reasons you mentioned in your email?”, asked my friends. “Well, it’s you”, I answered to their bemusement and offered each their portraits my kid drew on our last trip together. I framed and wrapped them as gifts for their upcoming birthday, which they celebrate a day apart next week. Their happy faces became stars on my life board. They mark our friendship, my kid’s talent and just a beautiful Sunday morning in a lovely company.
…or two. Quick. Radical…..Let’s see where this will take me. This urge is close to anticipation of an orgasm. It builds in waves…stronger and stronger. Will I ride on the wave? Will I let it sweep me away? Will I be on the crest of the wave? Will I let it pass? I do not know. I want to know.
In the past, which I cherish, whenever I wanted a change I used to run to the hairdresser. A change of hair cut or hair colour would trap me into thinking of it as a change I wanted. Now I laugh at the thought of it. Pictures of myself keep reminding me how self deceiving I was. An urge for change rooted into most intimate thoughts will not go away with a new hair-cut or new cloths or a new partner or a new house.
As I sip my divine mochaccino (thank you barista!), I realise that there is actually no need for change. It’s my inner self which screams for freedom. Freedom from conventions, freedom from self-inflicted stereotypes, freedom from what others want me to have/want. When I am at peace with myself, there is no such urge. I am filled with creative flows, I am generous, I am happy. Have I forgotten the golden rules of inner peace? Be grateful, see the beauty in everything around me, enjoy it, even if it’s a lemon!, brief, smile, laugh, dream with eyes wide open, let the warmth of love heal my heart…
I witnessed huge changes in one of my dearest friend’s life. I know him for for over 15 years now. He embraced enormous life transforming changes over this period. I realised every change he made towards his inner self was gradual, painful at times but in a beautiful, creative way. He is now at peace. I see it in his eyes, his gestures, his smile. Will he want to radically change anything now? I looked for an answer in a coming-out video he recently made public. I do not think so. He seems in a safe harbor, filled with love. So for now, he will probably simply wave good buy to any sudden urge for change. ….And I am going to do the same.
Well, with one exception perhaps: a visit to a make up artist does not count, right? 🙂