Yes, about being an outlaw…but also archetypes and exhaustion and self-care and then some.
The dictionary defines an archetype as a recurrent motif in literature, art, or mythology; a typical example of a person or thing. You’ve heard of the maiden, the mother, and the crone. There’s the lover, the hero, the magician, the sage, and more. Then there’s the outlaw.
Here’s some description:
- The Outlaw yearns for liberation from oppression. They’re risk-takers, progressive, and exude bravery in all circumstances.
- They have a penchant for revolution to help change the world — and if anarchy is involved, so be it — to make the world a better place. They are rule-breakers, despise being regulated, and oppose conformity.
- They denounce the normalized, what’s accepted, and status quo for something better. To do this, disruption is their tool. They run counter to the crowds. (The Brand Leader)
You can relate, yes? These things describe you — at least in part. Me too.
Here’s another definition that I find even more powerful:
“A woman who begins to take charge of her own life drawing not from patriarchal notions of individualistic success but from a desire to escape these norms is committing an act of social deviance and rebellion. She is the outlaw…” ~ Danielle Dulsky, The Holy Wild: A Heathen Bible for the Untamed Woman.
There’s much in me that aspires to this archetype, that wants to be the outlaw. I’m all about liberation and risk-taking, revolution and rule-breaking. It feels required, quite frankly. But to only be this, leaves me feeling tired, sometimes discouraged, and often overwhelmed by just how much remains to be “disrupted” in order to make the world a better place.
I want to be the outlaw AND I am more. I am the maiden, the mother, and the crone. I am the lover, the hero, the magician, the sage, and more. All of these at the same time. As the poet Walt Whitman said, “I am large. I contain multitudes.”
So, I wonder how to hold fast to the passion, intention, (and critical necessity) of the outlaw while holding on to all of myself — all at the same time.
I feel the pressure of Mao Zedong’s proclamation: “women hold up half the sky.” It explains why my arms ache, why my eyes see so much, why my heart often feels like it holds everything, all at once, why I feel weary and worn.
And then I wonder, “What if I just let the sky fall? The falling sky is what Chicken Little was deathly afraid of — certain the world was coming to an end when, in truth, a single acorn had fallen out of a maple tree and landed on their head.
I am not comparing Chicken Little’s tiny acorn to the sky that we hold up.
I am NOT saying that our concerns are over-reactive or hysterical; they are real and significant; they matter. I am NOT saying that we shouldn’t worry about all that might happen were we to let go of the “fight,” even for a little while; vigilance and perseverance is needed — now more than ever. I am NOT saying that we should just kick up our heels (with or without “outlaw” boots) and forget about it all; ignore the issues, bury our head in the sand, live and let live.
I AM saying that sometimes, especially when our arms are tired and we’re worn out from fighting, that there are other aspects of who we are that deserve our time, attention, nurture, and care.
I AM saying that it is radical — and rebellious and rule-breaking — to be kind to yourself, to nurture yourself, to think of yourself first (!!!); to go within and pay attention to your emotions, to listen to your heart, to follow it; to stop holding up the sky at the expense of all else, at the expense of all of you.
I am saying that perhaps this IS the most outlaw-like choice of all.
To do any of this IS “a woman who begins to take charge of her own life, drawing not from patriarchal notions…but from a desire to escape these norms…She is the outlaw.”
Here’s what’s true: We can advocate for social justice and let the sky fall — both at the same time, at least for a time. We can think brilliantly and feel deeply. We can be (and are) more than enough and never too much. We can be honest and loving. We can tell the truth and be compassionate. We can be the maiden, the mother, the crone and the lover, the hero, the magician, the sage, and more. We can be the outlaw and nurture ourselves in the most generous and extravagant of ways. In fact, we must.
More and more, I am coming to believe that it is just as radical and revolutionary to be kind to ourselves, listen deep within, trust our wisdom, and yes, let the sky fall, as it is to decry patriarchal notions and norms and commit acts of social deviance and rebellion. Even more rule-breaking and defiant than either of these is believing and knowing that we have the capacity to do both at the very same time, to “contain multitudes.”
It’s when we acknowledge, allow, even celebrate all of this — all of who we are — that we become the most outlaw-esque of all.
From one outlaw (and maiden/mother/crone/lover/hero/magician/sage and more) to another, may it be so.
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