Last year I was fortunate enough to help facilitate a community Ordeal ritual, which I discussed here. I’ve stayed in sporadic contact with participants, and so I’ve had an amazing opportunity to appreciate the lingering effects this Ordeal had and continues to have on so many people. That’s been invaluable for me, both as someone who facilitates these experiences and someone who experiences them myself.
Last year’s event went so well that I was invited to help out this year too, with Dark Odyssey’s 2014 Fusion event. Unfortunately I had to decline the invitation. Gigs to present at these kinds of events often don’t come with travel reimbursement, and rising plane fares simply put attendance beyond my budget. I kept hoping I’d pull a rabbit out of a hat, but when $600 spare dollars didn’t turn up in my couch cushions I had to bite the bullet and accept the fact that I simply would not be able to go.
I posted a little “so sorry I won’t be able to attend, but y’all have a great time!” message on the group page, sighed deeply, and figured that would be that.
Except it wasn’t.
Apparently I’ll be missed. I received numerous personal emails from last year’s participants expressing regret that I couldn’t attend. They had been looking forward to seeing me, and even better had been looking forward to participating in workshops/events/rituals I’d had a hand in. Their lives have changed over the last year and they wanted to catch me up in person on exactly how they’ve grown. My Work matters to these people, more than I ever knew. I’ve touched their lives in tangible and fundamental ways, and they went out of their way to let me know that.
I cried. Flat-out cried. I can’t really express how much I needed to hear that.
A fundamental component of my world-view is the idea that “our perspective creates our world”. As the news of school shootings and sexual assaults and this never-ending war crashed over me, as I felt more and more disconnected from my family, the faith I had that any of the things I fought for would ultimately matter took a real beating. It’s been hard to stay optimistic, or at least snarkily amused, about the world around me. Every day things seemed to get a bit bleaker, a bit colder, and I’ve noticed a corresponding downward shift in my perspective. Finding a silver lining anywhere more and more felt like I was whistling in the dark.
I mean, it’s not like my day-to-day life fundamentally changed or anything. I still woke up, worked, and slept. I still did my daily devotions, covered my head, and worked on the various projects I have going on. I was totally and completely aware of exactly how fortunate I was to have the bandwidth for an existential crisis when there were all too many others out there stressing food/clothing/shelter.
None of that seemed to matter where it counted, though. I kept coming back to whether or not I was accomplishing anything doing the things I do. I’m very goal-oriented, and not seeing results from my hours and hours and hours of effort was discouraging. I’m just one person, one voice, one pair of hands, one blogger/educator/lunatic among many. I am not Batman or Wonder Woman, saving the world from comic-book villians in the dead of night. I’m a simple priestess, busing to and from my tiny studio apartment outside of Seattle, in bed by 9p unless I’ve got ritual that evening. Did any of my Work have any sort of effect in the larger world at all?
Yes. Apparently yes, it does. Apparently, even if the world is imploding, I don’t need to be a superhero to make a difference.
These emails are straight-up validation, folks. My Work does matter. I have helped people, and a year later my Work is still helping people. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and that seems to be enough for now.
Why do I need to be a superhero, when I can say that?