So I am forty, my thirties were a tumultuous time, I can’t say it was a particularly happy decade. It was a time when I really tried to work against my nature and turn myself into something else. I guess many women do this. I tried to enforce a kind of blandness upon myself, if I wasn’t so eccentric, I would be happy, if I wasn’t always fighting norms life would be easy. I threw myself into domesticity but not a domesticity that was in sync with my own ways of giving.
Perhaps it is reductive to label an entire decade in this way, there were periods of joy and excitement and periods of real inner peace as faith settled into my heart and I connected to God/Creator/Divine Centre. But overall my experience was one of continual questioning and lack. I didn’t find a home in Islam as it is understood generally by most Muslims in Australia although I certainly connected to the Islam I read about or the Islam I encountered in my travels in Yemen or Morocco.
Perhaps in reaction to a decade of dryness and dissatisfaction I am now throwing myself into rediscovering my creative self. I don’t want to have to compartmentalise things into mothering or artistness, these things can exist together although it is sometimes hard. I am pregnant and I have plunged into an intense creative space which is at once wonderful and terrifying, pregnancy is such a time of extremes.
At the moment I am finding the most influential things I am reading that really speak to my gut involve a writing about the Feminine, the loss of this knowledge in our culture, what this means for women. It explains a wrongness I have felt all my life, a wrongness that I tried to fix through my exploration of Islamic Orthodoxy and it’s gendered spaces, something that I did find answers to in Yemen in ways that are too hard to articulate and ways that always encourage protestation from people who refuse to imagine that such a path could honour the Feminine. And I am too weary now of needing to spin my life in protestation and defence, I just can’t be bothered.
I haven’t been sleeping very well and despite my struggles now with my practise as a Muslim, in the middle of the night it is much easier to connect, to sit and look into the dark and to contemplate. At such times I feel God like an electricity in my veins, the night is alive and I am alive with it. I love the sensation of the house sleeping. In Islam we say that in the last third of the night God descends to the lowest heavens and this is something that feels so palpable.
I don’t have a designated workspace in this house. In our old house for a short period of time I set up a studio, it was a wonderful space and I would love to make something like that here but there really isn’t room so I just look at the pictures and remember it.
I feel a fierceness now that is willing to protect the aspects of life that I find essential and nothing can stand in the way. I will not live in dullness anymore. I know that most of the shadows we face in life are from our own selves, I don’t blame anyone for what I have or haven’t done with my life, every choice has been my own.
What matters to me now is God, family, art and womanhood…
And all of these things I am exploring are like wonderful lights in an otherwise un signposted wilderness.
I wrote this sentence today and so much of the life I feel buzzing within me is part of this realisation, I will not pander to patriarchy anymore, no matter the consequences, no matter the potential loss. Various people will make such a sentence far more reductive than it is. I am not talking solely about Islamic patriarchy but so much more broadly. And it is not contemporary Feminism where I find the answers.
These buzzwords are loaded, they cramn us into niches and often convey a limited vision. But such is language and we have to use what is at our disposal.
I am happy, there is potential swelling all around me.
Alhamdulillah ya Raheem!