The personal is political and the political, personal. These are the words of a former university professor that I have forgotten and re-remembered over the last 20 years, and at each remembrance interpreting them through different hues of dumb-coloured glasses. I’m not so sentimental that I oft recall the sage advice of my teachers and mentors. I was a good student often by luck and last-minute fortitude. I doubt I even recognized my mentors for what they were in the moments they swept through my unsophisticated life. Yet, somehow, this simple statement has echoed through my adult days. Perhaps because understanding its meaning has eluded me. Perhaps because its meaning is many. Whatever the reason, the personal is political and the political is personal squats on my head, and the brain dormant beneath, like a big fat toad, the kind that eats small dogs in Darwin, and reminds me of my place here in humanity.
Ok, it was Lesbian Literature 4-something, taken half out of curiousity, half out of credit desperation. It seemed obvious why our gay writer/professor felt the political an inseparable part of being, just as it was equally obvious we too would accept this axiom as our (mostly) non-gay truth. The real truth though was that I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. My late thirty-something self, however, might be on to something.
My adult political self is finally starting to make the connections that the “official” policies around me impact me, my family, my community, personally, even intimately. What my kids learn at school, the bus route on my street, the clothes I can buy, the food I eat, well, virtually everything in and around my life is what it is as a result of some political process. I know, I know, DUUUUUUHHH. Say what you will, but if the personal is political and vice versa, is the personal also professional? The political? This is my new conundrum.
I’ve always found it a bit creepy when my friends have thrust their professional lives into our friendship. Life insurance (sorry Gardy!), funeral arrangements (ditto Rob), and various schemes have crossed the personal threshold and made me squirm. Now, however, my personal, political, and professional interests seem to meld into each other, blurring the categorical boundaries to which I had once confined them.
I find myself showing my newest products to my friends, happy to pitch to them if necessary. My office doubles as my kids’ playroom. I’m reaching out to ex-boyfriends for marketing advice. I need to actually like my business acquaintances. I care whether where I shop contributes or detracts from the world. My own business will soon start wearing my heart on its sleeve. Is this professional? I’m not sure and I don’t care. Although I’ve been calling it a growing global consciousness, it is probably just called growing up, and at 38 it’s about time. The great thing is that this new stew of all my selves is so warm and nourishing, it’s gotta be good. Gardy and Rob, you know my number.