Y'all I almost lost my Zen this afternoon in Wal-Mart. It wouldn't have been pretty either. You see I was waiting in the checkout line and this woman rolled up on me and gave me colossal attitude. Although I can't remember exactly what she said, I do know the tone was nasty and I envisioned myself snatching her by her mangy hair and beating her to a bloody pulp right there by cashier #3. I was truly about to set it off in Wal-Mart! Of course I would have had to call my husband to bail me out of jail and I know my children would have laughed unmercilessly for the next fifty years and without a doubt someone would surely include the story in my eulogy, shaming me even beyond the grade. So instead of beating her, I took several deep breaths and tried to calm myself down.
Even as I was walking toward my car I was angry. Inwardly I was hoping I would see her in the parking lot so I could give her a piece of my mind, but then I had a thought: Maybe her day had been like mine. Maybe she was just as tired as I was and still needed to go home and cook dinner. Perhaps she was short on cash and was trying to figure out a way to go home and explain to her family that she just didn't have enough money to get what they needed. Maybe she was in pain, physical or emotional, or maybe she was just mean.
Could it have been that she felt blue because every magazine on both sides of the checkout lane touted all of the ways she was inferior? Not sexy enough, not young enough, not thin enough, therefore, not good enough. Whatever the case was I know I needed to feel love and compassion for her. Somehow. But I didn't. Not at first. But eventually that little spark ignited in my heart and I felt that she was my sister. No we are not related biologically, nor do we share the same race or socio- economic status. We may or may not belong to the same religion or political party, but we are the same gender and sisters need to remember how to stick together. I, for one, am sick and tired of seeing women on reality television disrespecting each other. Worse yet, I'm tired of seeing it in real life. I'm tired of the cattiness, the backbiting, and the unnecessary attitude. I'm often left dumbfounded asking myself where is the love?
We women are so beautiful. We are creative, intuitive, nurturing, and always hopeful. When did we stop encouraging each other, choosing instead to tear each other down insult by insult? Hurtful act by hurtful act. At what point did we lose compassion for each other, forgetting to understand that the load is not spread equitably, so sometimes we may need to help our sister out by carrying it for a while or speaking life to her as she struggles beneath it.
Recently, while teaching a lesson on connotation and denotation I asked my students to list all of the words they could think of to describe a woman. Easily we came up with nearly fifty words and most of them were negative. Why is that?
I'm glad I didn't beat the poor lady in the store although it would have made for good TV. Can't you just see the security camera video? Instead I'm celebrating her for all that she is as a woman and I'm choosing to call her by her name: mother, daughter, sister, aunt, grandmother, cousin, friend.