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Chic & Dude Lessons: The Art of Being
A Fairy Tale for We Who Reach Our Limits
A Fairy Tale for We Who Reach Our Limits
I had a tough day. A day where, out of the blue, when everything is going perfect, all my transition seems fake. “Oh, no! I’m a bro again, destroying everything in my path because things aren’t going my way, and the world owes me, and why is this even happening? ‘cuz I’ve never been a bro!”
And there it is. I’m an imposter.
Oh, I didn’t think that at the time, but I felt it even though my mind refused to give it words. So, it turns out your life isn’t the fairy tale you’ve told everyone! You still are the frustrated, limited, hating-the-world person you’ve always been. Ha!
Then, I realized I’d had a little too much caffeine, along with some work responsibilities that mushroomed out of my control. No existential crisis. I texted Pam and asked if we could have a beer at our local hang out. We shared and drank. After, I lounged in some bath salts. Ahhhh. While I soaked, I had a dream.
Once upon a time, the wells at the beginning of the world supplied the needs of all. The world was green and plentiful. Women and men lifted to the lips of each other new fruits, new wonders because the wells flowed over, the queen of each offering any traveler a drink of her chalice and food to delight.
One day, a king grew jealous at the wells and their queens. “They will be mine, to say who gets drink and food! Why should we give it so freely?”
When the queen offered him the chalice of her well, he dashed it to the ground, breaking her arm, then raped and enslaved her. The well was his, now, and he could give to whom he liked, so long as the traveler paid his price.
Other men sought to be kings and raped the queens of any well they could find, till the land was brown and sere, yielding no fruit. The water the kings meted out for a price left nothing in its place but bones and dry rock. The land no longer gave of itself but had to be tilled, rooted of stone and tree, and sown with sweat, so that the kings saw it as an enemy they would battle forever. They made all men and women their slaves in this war and taught them nothing but the endless battle, drought, and famine.
Amid this war of centuries, a young man wondered, “Why do we always battle the land for our bread?” As a child, he’d found that the land would give when he laid down his little-boy arms and let it feed him. He was laughed at and derided as a fool till he took part in the daily war, though his heart was not in it.
“I am not myself,” he said one day, holding a sword and plough, scoring the stony earth and stabbing wolves. “Am I the only one tired of war?”
He dropped his weapons and walked away from the fields.
He journeyed to find one man, one woman, who was tired enough to follow him, but all kept their gaze on the furrows before them and failed to note his passing. As he journeyed beyond the land of people, the air and earth grew dry. He was parched, but each night a plant sprouted where he collapsed and dropped dew on his tongue. In the morning, a raven brought him a succulent pear. So, the young man was able to journey to the end of the world, where the stars shone pale in the grey sky, for there is no sun there. No rain. No cloud. No dawn or dusk. No plant. No creature. Only rock and dust that choked him till he collapsed.
When he woke, his lips kissed a chalice, and he drank with abandon. The hand became arm that proffered dates, figs, apples, and pomegranates that he greedily stuffed into his mouth, till the juices soaked his brittled clothes.
The young man looked up and saw a crowned woman before a well, her arm in a sling. Behind her, the stars formed a wall of galaxies and quasars and nebulae that he could touch with his gritty fingers. All was before him, there already, his journey at an end at this, the end of the world.
“Who are you?” he asked the queen.
“I am thou, as thou hast always been.”
He touched his reviving body. “But I am a man and no woman. How can this be?”
She smiled. “We are all one, little one. We have always been so. Else, why would you hunger for that which you could not find in the lands of toil?”
“All is toil!” he punched away a comet. “That is why I have journeyed so far. Nothing in the world quenches. All is a waste of gain, mastery, spending, and loss.”
A tear trickled down the queen’s cheek. “All has never been so but in the world as ye have made it. The maidens that the kings of old raped were but the phantoms of those men’s vainglory. Wells are not made for gain and conquer, but for slaking of thirst. Food is for filling the traveler’s belly, not for barns and storehouses.”
“What then has caused such ruin? Has it all been an illusion?”
She shook her head. “No. We are raped. Always. But only that you would have it so, to take what is already given, to seize what is yours, to make yourself feel as though you could make it happen again in the morning. Yet,” she said, the corners of her ancient eyes curling in a smile, “it happens whether you rape or no. Our loss is real. Your gain is nothing. But it might be different.”
As she said this, he looked up to find himself, soggy-bottomed in a furrow, men and women laughing at his disarray. “Will you wallow in the mud all day, sister?” they asked.
Sister?!? He slapped his chest to find his breasts hurting at the blows and the babe he suckled crying at his violence.
“How am I this?” he asked, amazed and humiliated at the little one gumming his nipple in the presence of the crowd.
The people left, one by one, shaking their heads. The last one to depart was an old hag who said, a gleam in her eye, “Aye. Ye’ve crossed between the poles to find there are no poles. All is one, if ye’ll have it.”
And she was gone. The mother raised her child, then, telling her all the stories of how it could be, how it always is, how it will be, once we wake up.
And I woke and realized that, in my stumbling through what amounted to a bad day, I’d been the woman I’ve always been, confronted with all that would’ve daunted the man I once thought I had to be.
In the end, I knew only to journey to the waters — a beer, the flow of conversation with my love, a bath of sweet salts, and the tempest that is myself. Yet, every storm has its eye, and now I see.
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