By Frances Boyd
I am often stirred by inspiring moments in life that reset the mundane and I remember with meaning the joy of life. Many of these moments are taking in the beauty of nature; a walk in the woods, a sunset, or swimming in the healing waters of Lake Michigan. They also come in the form of the arts.
As a young college student watching the Empire Strikes Back Yoda said, “Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not the crude matter. You must feel the Force around you, here, between you, me the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.” In that moment I was awe struck. I grew up going to church every Sunday, but no one said we were luminous beings and there was a powerful ally that creates life and binds us.
At 40 I was in Paris at the Musee’ D’Orsay. It’s a museum in an old train station and the home of many of the Impressionist paintings. The colors and light of Monet, Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh, Cezanne and Gauguin seemed to bounce off the canvas. Some paintings made my knees shake as I stood overwhelmed by the beauty and energy of each brush stroke.
One of my favorite plays is Miss Saigon. I went to the play when it first came out in Milwaukee. There were four of us, friends, sitting in the second row, front and center. I could feel the sweat of the actors fly through the air along with the intense emotions they saw as their job as actors to convey to the audience. At the end of the play, the crowd stood and roared approval and I stood sobbing as did many others overwhelmed by all the energy communicated by this talented troupe that tapped into the beauty and inspiration of an art form truly revealed.
Recently, I was at the Women’s March in downtown Madison. I participated in many events during the Walker protests so the idea of heading down to State Street seemed the natural thing to do. The street quickly became packed well past the Library Mall up to the capitol. It was estimated by the UW-Madison Police to be 75,000 to 100,000 people, the second largest numbers per capita across the world to march that day, only behind DC with St. Paul, MN coming in third. Wow, so many people. So many inspiring, funny, serious, and creative signs written by people ready to stand for something they believe in. It was good to see so many people that care. There next to me were two guys. One had a sign that said, “Men of Quality Do Not Fear Equality.” The other guy’s sign said, “People Have the Power – to Wrestle the Earth From Fools… Patty Smith.” “Yeah!” I thought. “That’s one of my favorite songs.” It was written back in 1988. The words are strong with a riveting beat that makes you want to march for freedom.
Patty Smith says about the song and her late husband, “We had both protested the Vietnam War when we were young. We had been part of the 60’s, where our cultural voice was really strong, we were trying to write a song that would reintroduce that kind of energy. It’s sad for me but quite beautiful. It was really Fred’s song – even though I wrote the words, he wrote the music; the concept was his, and he wanted it to be a song that people sang all over the world to inspire them for different causes. And he didn’t live to see that happen, but I have. I’ve seen people. I’ve walked in marches all over the world where people spontaneously started singing it, you know, whether it’s been in Paris or with the Palestinians, or, you know, in Spain or New York City, Washington DC – and it’s moving for me to see his dream realized.”
With all that’s going on now, it is time to come together and unite for a greater equality for all. As one little girl’s sign said, “Make America Kind Again.” A Mother’s sign read, “They Tried to Bury Us Not Realizing We Are Seeds.” There were the everything signs such as, “In This House We Believe: Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights are Human Rights, No Human is Illegal, Science is Real, Love is Love, Kindness is Everything.” Famous quotes and quotes from our Founding Fathers voices were there too in signs such as, “When Injustice Becomes Law, Resistance Becomes Duty…Thomas Jefferson.”
Like Patty Smith and so many before me and now with so many that stand with me, I commit to this Earth and it’s atoms and molecules that are a part of me and a part of us. I dream of a kinder, inclusive society, and I’ll do my part to imagine peace, calm and harmony…along with liberty and justice for all…and I’ll do my best to live it each day.