Assignment: I’ve been too busy and I go on a ‘solo date’. What do I do?

All that land. All that space. All those houses, all those people. All their thoughts. What are they thinking about? Everyone is busy thinking. They are caught up in their thoughts, their worries, their to-do lists. Some worry for their sick relative. Some dream of buying a new car. Some wonder if they will have something to eat tomorrow. Some wish they had a better looking body. All those thoughts, like so many indistinguishable conversations are all happening down there, in those houses, in those streets.

And from up here, all I can hear is the wind. Its long howling whistles as it swirls around the cliffs. And the birds, who throw themselves into its current, as if for a carefree adrenaline rush. Beyond the city, I see the vast ocean, its slow but unstoppable force, rising and setting with the tides. And if I look up a little more, I see the sun, this bright star of ours that gives us heat and powers life, busy busy life, on this space rock that we call home.

I sigh. This is good for the soul.

After a day of contemplation, I climb down from the mountain, ready to dive back into the noisy life of crowded thoughts and busy days. I remember the perspective from the top of that mountain, overlooking the city and the ocean and I keep going, aware of my little place in the Universe.

Assignment: What is your most meaningful relationship and why?

The relationship I have with my children is the most profound, transformative and empowering relationship I have ever experienced.

Of course, I love them more than I thought possible, and they have given me joy and happiness beyond imaginable expectation but it is more than that.

Like most, I have grown up trying to hobble through life despite all the issues I got from a childhood with imperfect parents. Those issues have shaped me more than I’d like to admit sometimes and I have fought and worked hard to control them. It was tough but I tend to think that I’ve done a pretty good job of it.

Now suddenly it is my turn to be a mother and I can finally live up to those promises I made to myself when I was my children’s age: never to forget what it is like to be a child, never to do to my children those things that were done to me and it is positively liberating, more healing than any therapy.

My kids have unlocked a supermama in me who has no time for mental scars and other handicaps. Because I promised them, some time when I was seven years old, and nine, and twelve, and fourteen, and sixteen and twenty-one, never to hurt them like I was hurt.

For the first time in my life I stand up for myself. For the first time, I am free of my own parents’ flaws and I welcome them as my kids’ grand parents. I was never one to hold grudges but I did get affected by people’s actions. Now I just let go of wrongs and remain intact. I have the peace I need to accommodate all that mother’s love I’m feeling.

Nothing has ever felt more meaningful.

And in gratitude to my children for having freed me from my childhood pains, I hope and I pray that I do indeed live up to those promises and never hurt them. Life will do that anyway, so let me be a haven of gentle, unconditional and non judgmental love for the two amazing little beings who have made me the person I always wished to be.

Assignment: Write about something that has kept me awake at night.

For a long time I have been concerned with gender questions. Is the world fair? Clearly not. Over the years, my thinking has evolved. I went from an upset “Why doesn’t everybody see it and get upset too? Why doesn’t anyone care?” via the moral high ground of academic work on the subject and even a non-profit project, to finally accepting that I can’t change the world. I can’t even nudge it in the right direction.

All that happened while I was not really suffering from the ongoing sexism and discrimination. It was happening to me, sure, but I was culturally blind, as you are with something you’ve been taught to believe is right from the youngest age. After hitting the wall of indifference for many years, I decided to stop fighting. I still have all my deep knowledge of the subject, but I’m not an activist anymore.

That’s when the discrimination started to hurt me even more and became increasingly obvious. The pay gap. OK well there’s nothing that can be done about that, unless I fight for it (without being labeled a b****? Ha! There’s that catch again). And then, I was being persecuted at work while pregnant and had to resign to preserve the health of my baby. Can you believe that I had the nerve to ask for a settlement because the law was in my favour? What a joke! That’s when it became uncompromisingly clear that whatever the law says, it’s at best a feel-good lip-service paid by the overwhelmingly pale male ruling class to the abused minorities. Because while the law may be on your side, you still have to fight for it. And there’s this thing about abused minorities: they are less strong than their abusers, otherwise they wouldn’t be abused, now, would they? So I couldn’t actually fight – for the very same health reasons that this employer shamelessly used to bully me out of this organisation: unhealthy stress level for the baby and the mother. The injustice of it all has kept me awake many nights.

But life goes on, and like millions of women before me, I’ve moved on.

However, I will claim something for myself. All these painful experiences have made me a much better human being than all those privileged powerful boys in that closed boys club that is leadership. Because you see, I have compassion, I have understanding and I have empathy for others who are abused (and most are in one way or another). I have respect for my fellow human beings, and I have the ability not to be blinded by difference, never to be stuck in an us-and-them perspective.

And what I see now in those men is not their position of power anymore. What I see is the sad illusion of righteousness. The fear of losing what they have, the need for praise and reward, the permanent slavery of competition and the short-sightedness of those who never look in another direction than upwards. And sometimes I feel sorry for them, because having gone through so many subjective complexities of human relationships, I see us as one big, somewhat tragic species.

Today, I have wisdom, I have peace and I have an infinite amount of love to give to all those I can reach, starting with my children. So sure, I may not be able to change the world with activism, but I know I can nudge it in the right direction with love, one little soul at a time.