I had to laugh out loud today when I googled the definition of “badass”: ‘a tough, uncompromising or intimidating person. “One of them is a real badass, the other’s pretty friendly.”’ Which of course begs the question, can’t a badass be friendly? If so, please sign me up, sir.
I’ve been feeling drawn to that word a lot lately, especially since it is now so often used in a feminine context. This morning a friend sent me an article describing Helen Mirren as badass, apparently because she’s older, sexy, and very comfortable with herself. Yeh, now I was really digging it. No mention was made of her friendliness. My friend, myself and a few others have been reading a book together and hanging out periodically to discuss it, and our lives, our spiritual journeys, and… you know. We’re women. We talk about it ALL. It’s a beautiful thang.
I’m older than the other women, but that’s usually the case for me anyway, and actually always has been. I’m older than all but a select few apparently, and have gotten used to it, for the most part. It helps that I’m immature and sophomoric. I’ve shared in another blog that when I turned 60 I had an extremely adverse and some might say psychotic reaction, but at the time I was making my way through some other very deep waters as well, and I think that had more to do with my psychosis than just the flip of that decade digit. Or that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. Since that time I’m further down the recovery road, and hit a few more notches on the age belt too. My body and my mirror convince me on the reg that this is a battle I cannot win, so I’m less inclined to rage. On a good day I concentrate more on my spirit than my physical fadings, and I consider what it might look like to “age well,” or sanely, or….as a badass.
As the North American dictionary defines it, am I tough? Well, I’m still standing. And that’s not chopped liver, believe me. Hang around for 63 years and some hard times come down the road. Geez, just the past year alone politically has brought enough shock, shame, and sorrow to show up any other decade, and I’ve already seen one president impeached. When I came in late last night my husband had fallen asleep with the TV on, and I saw a banner scrolling across the bottom of the screen announcing the latest mass murder horror, 22 young people killed at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. I confess to you that I quickly turned off the set, because I almost cannot bear to watch the news at all anymore. Call it denial, call it hiding… this world overflows with things that break my already weary heart. Maybe I’m not tough….
How about uncompromising? Am I unbending and inflexible? In a word, no. Much of last night’s conversation actually centered around all that we are un-learning, the shifts in our thinking from certainty to openness in some areas of our experience that had once seemed permanently locked down. Ahh, this is one of my great joys at this juncture of my advanced age… throwing up the window and letting some fresh air in to my heart and mind. To reconsider ideas and philosophies that have been so treasured, even life-saving to me in my own story. I will be forever grateful for the particular trajectory of my story, for I was truly lost and truly found, and would never have made it to 63 years without taking the paths that now seem a bit overgrown to me. Not all, not even most, but definitely some. And the adventurer in me is enjoying reexamining things, like a decrepit miner kneeling on ancient knees by a stream, shaking his pan for the gold. Hope never dies, and there is always more to learn, more growing to do. That’s what this group of women is about, journeying together. And there is no compromising that. I want to grow to the very last minute.
The last one is interesting: intimidating. Not on my best day. I wish. If I’d had any powers of intimidation I’d have whipped them out on scary parenting days, or when those thugs mugged me on the street years ago, or when that girl stole my whole paycheck out of my purse and we BOTH knew it. Dag, I wish. But I am completely lacking in power moves, and have to fight my battles on other levels. Any good badass has another holster, another trick up her sleeve. Maybe I am a badass, because I’ve been a fighter from jump. My guns were holstered for a few years, quietly rusting, but I’m on the way back, baby. Maybe I’ll grow into my intimidation chops, who knows?
Or maybe I’ll be the badass’ friendlier sidekick, mentioned in the chatty dictionary illustration. That may match my skill set more. I’m not sexy Helen Mirren, it’s true, but I’m definitely still in the game. I’m still journeying, still believing, still playing. Don’t count me out yet. If there’s a secondary path to badass, a side alley that is maybe less about intimidation and more about mining for gold on creaky knees, look for me there. Just don’t expect me to look like Helen.