When I was 24 I decided that I did not feel very connected to my given name so I began a search for a new moniker. I knew many people who had adopted “Native American” names but it seemed to me we had swiped enough from our native populations.
I looked to the traditions that were already a part of western culture and I happened across a copy of Mary Daly’s “Wickedary”. Thus I found my name.
Maenad – wild woman, crazy woman
Widdershins – counterclockwise, goes against the grain, turning back the doomsday clock. This was my 25th birthday present to myself.
Being compelled or driven to do something has been a theme throughout my life. When I was little it was, “be what my mom/community/school/peer group wanted. Later, it’s more – fulfill the obligations and commitments I signed up for. I’ve never been good at meeting these external expectations but creating an authentic self in the midst of all these expectations has been a real challenge.
I have felt compelled to teach – which leads to learning about specific subjects and about the learning process — compelled to create and learn about the creative process.
Because I felt I could make a difference –
For a moment
For the future
For someone’s comfort
For someone’s connection.
My favorite series of books features a female character who is a physician. The plot is often driven by her need to act as one. This is not, for her, a choice. She simply is a doctor and must do what she does, without regard to the consequences or danger to herself. I think part of why I love these books is that I have never felt that drive, that compulsion for anything. My life has very much been driven by circumstances and kismet. I feel the lack greatly. If only I could find my true calling, my avocation I could do GREAT THINGS. Rather I find myself in graduate school because I got a serendipitous fellowship. This is not to say that a Master’s degree is not a worthwhile endeavor and hard work. Only that I did not seek it out. What differences in my personality, in my life as it is now would have occurred, I have to wonder – if I had set my sights on a goal and gone there.
Several years ago I began to learn about the terrible reality of human trafficking and the equally terrible reality that Houston is a hub for this activity in the United States. I learned there was no safe house for young American girls who were rescued from sex trafficking and I found myself consumed with the need to do whatever I could to change that and to bring attention to the tragedy of human trafficking in general. I had never felt compelled before but on this issue I was. Unsure about how to make a significant difference on my own, I found myself thinking about starting an Abolitionists group here at church – a thought that took me way outside my comfort zone, and yet I felt tremendous energy and drive to make that group a reality here at church and for me, along with my UU brothers and sisters, to do all we could to makes changes in the lives of anyone who had been trafficked, to bring awareness of this issue in service of ending the reality of human trafficking in our world. This has been one of the clearest, most powerful imperatives I have ever experienced in my entire life.
At my best I think I feel compelled, devoted, and driven to write. Depressed or grieving for many losses, bereft, I felt also bereft of this great urge and my ability to act upon it. However, recently, writing has returned to my life. On Facebook, in texts, in emails in letters and notes, in journals – all over the place. I’M WRITING AGAIN!
I feel compelled to be a climate reality activist because of my admiration for UU principals – Climate change poses the greatest justice issue of our time. I am compelled to engage in organizing and civil disobedience. I am compelled to participate in the great march for Climate Action March 1, 2014 to November 4, 2014 from Los Angeles to Washington, DC. I will march and preach climate change reality from Denver, CO to Davenport, IA from June 10th to August 5, 2014.
I am driven to not be driven. In the words of Oscar Wilde, “Life is too important to be taken seriously.” In the words of Pablo Neruda, “A child who doesn’t play is not a child. A man who does not play has lost the child within him, and will miss him terribly.
So I find myself attracted to working with youth, allowing me to contribute in a way which matters to me, yet allows me to feed my healthy inner child.