A Greeting to and from the World
I’m not a shrinking violet. I clap and squeal when I meet a kindred spirit. That’s because of my Mom, who carried me and pointed out things to greet.
“Look at the picture! See the picture of the boat? Say ‘Hi, boat!’
“See the bunny? Say hi to the bunny!”
“See the toaster that makes yummy toast?”
I grew up like Brick Tamlin in Anchorman, saying, “I love lamp.”
I talked to trees and birds. Saw dinosaurs in the woods behind our house. Gave my Matchbox cars names. Greeted a dirt pile like it was a long-lost friend. It felt only fair to greet anything else in existence as on the same footing. Being different from a pile of dirt didn’t mean I shouldn’t say hello to it. It just felt right.
Things happened. Divorce, bullies, the terrors of school, learning how the world “really” is. Papa Culture said greeting things was childish and irrational. In a Christian and gender-binary household, I had to be male, like Dad. I wasn’t allowed to greet to my true self.My world became two-sided:
SIDE A: In a man’s world, I was a dude. No crying allowed. Nor could I share the grace I saw in girls and women.
SIDE B: Zip. Zilch. Nada. I don’t know. I’m not supposed to go there.
To ponder anything but SIDE A dropped me into a bottomless pit of What-ifs:
What if … I’m not smart enough? Tough enough? Brave enough?
What if I don’t wanna play Little League ’cuz I’m afraid of the ball and can’t bond with my douchebag teammates?
What if … I feel horribly awkward trying to dupe, seduce, and use women so I can get off?
What if … I’d rather be like them?
WHY do I want to be like them?
WHY do I no longer believe the world will say “Hello” back to me?
What’ll happen if I dare touch one toe on SIDE B?
I don’t know.
I couldn’t say “Huwwo” to the “I don’t knows”—the biggest one of which was myself.
So, I built a SIDE-A fortress between me and the What-ifs, labeling the “I don’t knows” as “WRONG” and working tirelessly to get everything right. I joined tribes that reinforced this binary—Good vs. Evil. Soul vs. Body. Believer vs. Infidel. A member of my tribe instructed me how to do the right thing at any given time, saying, “There’re a thousand good things you can do. What’s the one BEST thing you’re called to do?”
Going along to get along, I didn’t ask aloud two questions:
Just WHO is “calling” me to do anything?
I don’t get to say even “Huwwo” to all those good things I’m turning my back on for this one BEST thing?
Hidden from me—but not entirely so—was a whisper of what things could be like if I unknew all I was being taught, to realize the pagan and trans me. I stopped looking around corners for a devil to devour me. Oh, the world’s full of peril. My hello to a crocodile ought to be radically different than my hello to a bunny. But a world without pleasure, hope, and danger would be no adventure.
The pagan/trans Hello is humankind’s childhood, shrouded under a cloak of “original-sin” fabric. Churchmen and enlightened rationalists draped it over us. A Francis of Assisi or Julian of Norwich occasionally jumps out and runs naked like a toddler after a bath, till they’re cloaked and co-opted, while the echoes of their “Huwwo!” ring down the ages.
My ignorance in the wake of these echoes should start the conversation—not end it. My answering “Huwwo!” opens me to the gods, Fae, spirits … and to myself, to hear what I don’t know about myself. Since transitioning, I’ve learned again to greet a world that’s always answered me, in good and bad ways. In hope and despair. And in so many ways in-between and beyond. I am trans. And I am pagan. They are not opposed.
It’s not one or the other. It’s everything.
To be pagan is to again be a child free of the cloak. There is no one way, truth, and life. All is a way. All bears truth. All grants life. I meet myself in the springtime of the world, as it has always been. Though I’m not yet fluent enough to understand the mountains, the trees, the animals, and the snow like I can other humans, that doesn’t mean these cosmic soulmates don’t have a voice. I must start the conversation.
With myself. With the world. The pagan and trans way … with a “Huwwo!”
To be pagan and trans is to welcome an answer.