Mama tells me that from the age of four until I was six or so, I used to stand on the picnic table in our back yard and enact a specific scene. "Ladies and Gentlemen," I would holler, "MISS JUDY GAARRLANDDD!" I would then applaud wildly while I took my stand in front of the imaginary microphone to sing "Stormy Weather," or "Happiness is Just a Thing Called Joe," or any one of my many other favorite songs.
I do remember that my first purchase of a record album was a Judy Garland disk (I still have it), and I was inconsolable when she died. And I can still do a mean "Stormy Weather."
Am I saying that Garland was a feminist icon? No, of course not.
But Judy Garland was my introduction to a powerful woman who allowed her power to destroy her. It was her passion and her vulnerability that made her a great singer; it was her passion and vulnerability (and lack of control) that led to her death.
Living in the earth-deposits of our history
Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate.
Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil
She died a famous woman denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power.
A life lived without passion and the power that comes from it is not a life worth living. What is the answer? I don't know. Balance? A connection with Source? Finding a community? I try for all these things. But I will not sacrifice passion.