From an early age, I learned to perform, kind of like a circus monkey. Do this, do that, go here, wear this, color it this way, think this or else, say this not that, be like this, put this on your head, that’s not how you should feel, think, be, look like, dress like…
And on and on it went.
I am also a survivor, which is to say, I adapt, quickly and easily. Put me on the crazy stage and I’ll embrace the role no one else is willing to take on. In my childhood, that role was the “trouble maker.” I performed the role whenever it was needed, and for whatever reason it was appropriate. I wanted to be part of the troupe, to blend in, to survive. I managed this for awhile. And eventually, I found a way to escape the elaborate circus of my childhood, but it took some bending, twisting, and becoming something I am not naturally, defiant as fuck.
As a kid, my only real escape was defiance. It set me apart, it was my go to survival skill. It made me different. Someone fucked with me, I played the role of an impenetrable, rude, loud, defiant female. You see, I’m not made of “fuck with people” ingredients. It’s takes some creativity to fight back against meanness, ignorance, bullying, hypocrisy and people who seem like they not only hate themselves, but you as well. Defiance may not have been a natural talent, but creativity was, and I did find my way out, and into my life. Eventually.
Defiance is an act of rebellion. A standing in one own’s power, for good or bad. To be defiant is to defy, reject or fight against something or someone pushing something, an idea, a way of being, that is fundamentally incongruent with who you are. It’s an important act of self-expression, self-preservation, and self-actualization.
While the dictionary may say something different, this is my own definition, based on my experience and reason for being defiant.
As a child who was defiant, this skill developed as a response to ideologies that included making women feel like total shit about themselves, so pervasive and convincing, that those beliefs were unquestioningly taken on and owned by women themselves. Then taught to the hundreds of girls being raised in tucked-away ashrams, with very little outside influence.
The visual orgasm of americanized-indian culture hid any signs of abuse. Flowers, incense, melodic sanskrit mantras, beautiful fabrics and out-of-this-world delicious food were the intoxicants of the masses . The pleasure of burfi, or a gulab jamun, fried properly and soaked in sugar/honey water was to the hare krishna brain as was an orgasm to a karmi (non-hare krishna person).
Alongside the beauty, a darkness grew, as immoral and unethical as any tax exempt institution gets to be in plain sight, at least here in the U.S.
Defiance was, and still is a powerful way to stand against the worst of it, and for something better. We see it in our current state of corporate leadership and political theatrics. Advocates are typically the defiant ones, those who stand up for something or someone, and against oppression, in whatever glorious manifestation it takes on.
Now, smattering an entire tube of toothpaste in the girls bathroom may not be comparable to a jedi defiantly refusing darth vader, or harry potter fighting against voldemort, but in that moment, at the age of 11, the toothpaste was my weapon and it was messy. It was a good enough weapon, and made a point. I was uncontrollable. Enough said.
That was one of many times I took a stand against the system, and it was a fun one!
The best part, my favorite memory of this, was standing in front of my rapid-spitting, finger-pointing ashram teacher and defiantly telling her I had no idea what happened, I didn’t do it, and it wasn’t my problem. I also added that I no longer wanted to be a Hare Krishna, and that I probably want to eat meat (honestly, I didn’t really want to, but to an 11 year old, it was the perfect way to fuck with her teacher). I also wanted to be called my karmi name. All in one act of weaponized toothpaste, not only did the toothpaste spill, my role of a trouble maker became much more than a role, it became an identity.
Smattering toothpaste everywhere was totally scary, because I knew I’d get in trouble, and it very fun because really until now, toothpaste was simply substitute vomit. This day, it was my paint. My heart beat fast, my knees were shaking the whole time - it was like I drank too much caffeine, you know that whacky feeling? I still remember it. It was the perfect adrenaline rush, a defining occurence in a moment of definane.
Defiance saved my life once.
Not long after the toothpaste incident, my mother and her guru tried to coralle me into being a good devotee (someone who worships and follows someone else, someone devoted to an ideology or belief system.) In my case, they thought marriage would cure my defiance.
Haha! If it weren’t a true story, it’d be hilarious assumption that marriage would have ever been what controls me.
That’s another story though.
For now, I’ll close with this, defiance, in its many variations: art, music, toothpaste smatterings or other such rebellious forms, is an invaluable skill, a worthy attribute in a character, a bold role to play, a valuable survival skill for circus monkeys and little girls fighting for their freedom.
Quicky: When you’re pushed against the wall, you have a choice: fight back or become part of the stagnant, stiff wall, integrating fully into the very institution that pushed you so hard, that the only way to deal was to become the wall. Sadly, this is too often what happens.
That would simply suck.
Till next time.