I don't think I'll use a picture this morning because the picture I want to use is not mine to use.
It's a picture of a woman who has just given birth of her own accord and she is holding her baby and the expression on her face is the same expression I saw on almost every woman I attended as a birth assistant in my life and also the one I wore when my babies were born.
It is an expression of complete and utter peace and quiet joy.
It is the face of the most profound love there is on this earth.
And no, I don't want to do a wrap-up today but what I do think I want to do is to give a quiet and unabashed testimony to the people in this world who do not follow the path our society has laid before us as the "right" one.
It is still considered slightly just short of child abuse to have a baby anywhere but in a hospital in this country and so, to the women who labor without drugs, attended by midwives who watch carefully and who use their hands skillfully- I give you my respect.
That is one way not to follow the "right" path and the resulting joy is the reward.
Here is another way not to follow the "right" path- be gay. Be bisexual. Become transgendered. Frankly, I don't think we get a choice in these but some people who realize at an early age that they are attracted to people of the same sex or are, in fact, not the gender of the body they were born in, so very bravely jump off the paved road of the rest of us hetero's and strike out to follow a much scarier path. Those who do this under the often-disapproving eyes of society are, to me, some of the bravest people in the world. The ones who do not accept "don't ask, don't tell," in any way, shape or form. I was listening to an interview with a man who had been a gay soldier and he was talking about how when he was in the service, there was ALWAYS asking. Just the innocent, "Do you have a girlfriend?" question is asking because if you are gay, the truthful answer would be, "No, but I have a boyfriend," and of course, if you tell that truth, you are kicked out.
Until now. Or soon.
Thank-you, Obama, for making it easier for a gay person to serve his or her country in the military without having to be a fucking liar, hypocrite, terrified individual.
But it's not just in the military that even now gay and transgendered people have to fear. Society somehow WANTS everyone to fit into the same mold and if you don't, well, certain individuals will always think that the best way to deal with the situation is to pound that square peg into the round hole with great and terrible violence.
And yet- there are those people who know this fact but still, in the face of familial and societal pressure and disapproval, shrug off the ill-fitting constraints of society and are who they are and these are some of the people I adore. And admire. And respect. And love.
And to anyone who thinks that gays are trying to get "special rights" let me just say this- FUCK YOU!
Next, I'd like to talk about the Artists. People who, growing up, feel an overwhelming compulsion to make music, make art, make poetry, make films, make stories despite our cultural belief that yes, art is wonderful but, as John Lennon's auntie told him, "You'll never make a living out of it."
It's such a cliche. Why? Because it's true. You don't get paid in this society for making art and if you do, it's not enough to live on, usually, much less to buy the things you need to make the art. But my god! How could we live without art? It entertains us, it enriches us, it fills the place in our souls that nothing else can fill. And there are those artists who insist on doing their art even though no, they will never get rich on it, may in fact, go hungry while creating it, and to them I kneel and say, "Thank-you."
And sometimes they do get monetarily rewarded and yes, maybe that's part of the carrot on the stick but after a certain point in the artist's life, not much of one.
As one guitar player (now deceased) that I used to go listen to always said at the end of the evening, "Thanks for coming out. Otherwise, we'd all be sitting around someone's living room, playing for ourselves."
Who else? Ah, all of the people who refuse to keep their lights under a bushel, no matter how oddly that light shines from the old people who don't wear what old people should wear to doctors like the one I read about in today's paper who has dedicated his entire life to making the lives of people with leprosy in China better and who has fought for their rights as he worked to cure them. People like Martin Luther King, Jr. who did not accept that an entire race of people should not be allowed to have the same rights as another race of people, simply because of skin color. People who must dance, even as the world says, walk. People like Jimmy Carter who speak the truth and fear no man whether the subject is peace in the Middle East or condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS in Africa. People who let their freak flags fly, people who dive off the highest places into the deepest water, fight their way to the surface and tell us about it. People who have been beat down and shamed as children and yet, who somehow manage to grow up strong and become advocates for children who are treated as they were. People who have children which society does not honor because of their differences but who refuse to let society forget that yes, they DO matter, they DO deserve what every child deserves. People who step out of their roles in their jobs and their lives to do something seemingly small and yet, which may change lives, whether they are teachers or cops or soldiers or store clerks or lawyers or nurses. People who look at things through different eyes and who can perceive ways to change things- who can say, "Yes, I understand that this is how it's always been done but what if?"
What if we all took whatever it is that is in us which is the spark which makes us different from everyone else and we did not work to hide or smother that spark but let it flame into something beautiful?
Whether it means giving birth in a birth center or designing rocket ships? Whether it means adopting a child or a dog or a cat or taking on the whaling industry in a small, inflatable boat? Whether it means stepping in when a child is being abused or a rain forest is being threatened? Whether it means learning to play the guitar or trying to find a cure for cancer? Whether it means planting a garden in a place no garden has been planted before or creating beautiful things with wood or discarded objects?
Whether it means wearing your hair long if you are a man and putting it up in chopsticks and wearing eye make-up, or putting on a suit and tie if you are a woman?
There is no act too small or too large when it comes to what if.
There is only the small voice inside which sometimes rages too loudly to ignore and sometimes must be coaxed out to hear its message with patience and with trust.
Well, so. I guess what I'm saying here is that it is these sparks which sometimes become flames which are what I love about humanity. Those sparks that say, What if I don't follow the rules, what if I ignore the way it's always been done, what if I allow myself to be who I am no matter what others may think? What if I do not follow the script? What if I fight back? What if I turn the other cheek? What if I refuse to accept your truth over my own?
Yes. That's what I'm saying.
And thanking those who don't follow the script from Jimmy Carter to that gay soldier to yes, Keith Richards and John Lennon and all of the not-famous people too. The ones I know and love and cherish and adore. You know who you are.
You are the light which keeps humanity burning with passion and with beauty.
Okay. This has gone on long enough. From one birth to Keith Richards and you have no idea how tight that little circle is in my own little world.
Another story for another day, perhaps. But for now, it's enough just to acknowledge that.
And on a selfish note, I want to give my great thanks to the man who, when he met me, did not say, "This bitch is crazy," and run like hell which would have been the sensible thing to do, but who thought to himself, "What if? What if she was loved and supported and given faithfulness and stability? What if?"
And then did it.
And did crazy things like start his own businesses and buy crazy-good houses and loved a woman who did not look, on any account, like a normal person.
Who has been the best husband and father and now grandfather. Who has loved me into a sort of sanity without ever trying to smother the sparks inside of me.
I hope I have done the same for him.
Happy New Year's, y'all. Keep those home fires burning, the ones within and without. Recognize and honor them, especially your own because they are as important as the ones inside anyone. Believe it.
So much love...Ms. Moon