If you know the history of Zimbabwe, you know, above all, that it’s not pretty.
Although most of the people are gentle and extremely persevering, there is an unseen river of sadness running through them.
Having the same dictatorial president for 30 years, and a blatantly racist, white president before him, had a devastating affect on the people of Zimbabwe.
And even though Zimbabweans will tell you, “We always find a way,” when referring to matters of basic necessity—like obtaining food and petrol—you can see the sadness from which that statement comes. You can tell, in their eyes, that more forgiveness and less racism from both sides would have made an extraordinary difference to the lives of all.
Due to the hate, racism, and poor economic structure that pervade the gorgeous land, it was, and still is, dangerous to live there—especially when compared to the country (U.S.A.) and state (Colorado) I now live in.
For this reason, my mother had to play the role of Kali (the goddess of destruction) in order to protect us. But she was also exceptionally gentle, caring, and so incredibly loving.
I know that International Women’s Day has already passed, but that is never an excuse to forget about the strength, intuitive beauty, and dynamic prowess women inhabit. For this reason, I want to pay tribute to my mom, whose example literally saved my life and gave me hope in myself when I was deficient in it.
Here are two stories about her strength and love, which encapsulate the strength and love of women all around the world.
If you live in Zimbabwe, a wall with an electric fence is a necessity. An inside and outside alarm is also a necessity. The crime rate is that bad. People are poor, and sometimes, the only way to feed their family is to steal from those who are more fortunate than them.
Oftentimes, thieves came through in frightening and horrific ways.
One day, I remember waking up to my brother and mother crying in the main room of the house, their tears splashing on the worn-down cream carpet. When I asked them what happened, my mother’s voice began to choke up. She told me that our next-door neighbor had been shot in the head after trying to protect his mother, who was being held at gunpoint by one of six men.
The thieves then walked out after taking what they needed, leaving the family scarred for life.
After that situation, I lived in a state of perpetual fear. Whenever I got home from school, I would run around the house frantically and lock all the doors in case men thought to show up and murder us.
But my mother always reassured us that everything was okay—even when it wasn’t—because she believed in her own power to protect us and keep us out of danger.
It was Tuesday night, I think, and I was alone at home with my mom. After eating supper, I went to bed, but soon awoke to hear the sound of the outside alarm go off. The protocol at the time was to always go into my mom’s room after hearing the alarm—so I did. And in a war-like voice, my mother shouted for me to get under the bed.
When I did, she grabbed a gun, and I watched her fearlessly open the Victorian windows and shoot two loud shots into the sky while screaming these words into the night with a thick and sturdy accent:
“Get out of here, you bastard!”
Gunshots. Bang. Bang.
I then remember seeing a man jump over our nearly six-foot green wall that was protected by an electric wire all around. It was something to behold. He would have set an Olympic record if the circumstances were different.
That sort of protection, I have come to find, is natural to a mother. It’s not as if a mother needs to learn to protect her children. She just protects them, because it is in her genes to do so. When she needs to be Kali, the gun comes out, or the sword, or the sentence, depending on the circumstance. But it always comes from love.
The destruction of darkness and falsity always comes from love.
Here’s another story.
When I was eight years old, I was traveling with my mom on the pothole roads in our red Nissan Sunny after grabbing an ice cream from Eastlea—our favorite ice cream shop.
She asked me a question.
“Preston, what do you want for your birthday?” There was no question about it: I wanted “fighting guys.” As a child, I was obsessed with the WWF. The majority of my time was spent enacting wrestling matches between The Undertaker and The Rock (if you know, you know).
When I woke up the next morning, though, the present in front of me was not what I expected. There were “fighting guys,” but not the type I enjoyed. They seemed a little cheaper and of less quality than the other ones. Instead of genuine gratitude, I pretended to be grateful.
But later on that day, while watching my mother from afar cutting my gigantic birthday cake in front of my entire class—who she had invited—my stepdad told me that she drove five hours away to fetch me those action figures.
She drove 10 hours to make sure I was happy on my birthday.
That story has stayed with me, and it’s one I will never forget, for it is the clearest example of the unfathomable love a mother has for her children. Birthdays were not a regular day for us. My mom didn’t just go out of her way to ensure we felt loved. She went over the moon, through impenetrable walls, and across all cities in a nation if it meant she could see us happy.
That sort of love cannot be understood by the contracted quality of our mind. The mind may even consider it to be unreasonable.
Where the mind says, “Why on earth would you do that?” The heart says, “Why not?”
The breathtaking land of “Why Not?” is where my mother abides, and where the most powerful women abide.
When I was unsure of a decision to make, for instance, my mom would always remind me to jump and build my wings on the way down. I have done that far too many times in my life to count. And when I traveled to India, I didn’t think I was going to have any wings at all, for I got so close to the bottom that I began to smell the dirt. But everything worked out in miraculous ways.
Perhaps that is the reason why I have a St. John of the Cross quote on my arm that says:
“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”
My mother showed me that a woman loves fiercely, even when it hurts her to do so, even if it means she has to witness you throw a tantrum and curse at her after taking your petty toys away. Why? Because, at the end of the road, she knows what’s waiting. Her intuition is at the end of the road already.
Now as a man, I know there is only so much I can say about the mystery and beautiful force that permeates through woman. That is why I will no longer attempt to define them. They have been defined for far too long, even though, what we as men love about them most—even if we fail to admit it—is their dynamic and unpredictable prowess.
Their intelligence comes from a place that is beyond the rational, ordered mind. Their intuition is tapped into myth. Their love is indefinable and unexplainable, but potently real. And their spiritual connection is beyond religion, tradition, and all masculine ways of putting things in boxes and rigid compartments.
When a woman is empowered, she is the embodiment of a truth that cannot be figured out—only felt. And when a woman is tapped into the source of life, she speaks her own truth and does her own dance. She is not subject to rules and strict forms of ethical codes of conduct. She is beyond all of that.
Women’s ethic is to touch into every moment with grace—and act from that place. Sometimes, their response is wrathful. Other times, it is soft. But it is always real and necessary.
Being around that is refreshing, especially when we are surrounded by structures in place that resemble the rigid order of contracted masculine energy.
Deadlines, sexual repression, suppression, and unnecessary discipline—these are all built into our society as a way to control us and ignore the beautiful chaos beneath. Don’t get me wrong: order is important, but it is plain stupid to pretend that order is all that exists. And it would be wise for us men to become a lot more familiar with a dance that is spontaneous and a little more interesting than syllabi, logical premises, and linear ways of thinking.
The statistical mentality has played its role, and now, it is time for the tides to shift.
Growing up with my mom, there were moments when I thought to myself, “Mother, that’s irrational.” Now as I get older, what I see is that she is beyond rational. The most powerful women are.
But I only began to realize the power of my mother, and the divine feminine within her, once I began to understand the feminine energy within myself.
The more attuned with the feminine I have become, the closer I have become to my mom. If it weren’t for her, I would be lost in ways I cannot explain. Through her example, I saw that a woman is anything but meek. Like the lioness, she can lead the way in the hunt, and when it is time, hold her baby cubs with love and tenderness.
A woman is a protector and creator, destroyer of falsity, and queen of the intuitive worlds.