Eve Ensler's SUDDENLY, MY BODY: watch it, then write what matters

I just watched Eve Ensler's powerful new 12-minute video on TED. I immediately wanted to reach out to all the women in my life. And to all the men who love but are confused by the women in their lives.  Please don’t miss Suddenly, my body. Watch it with a friend. Watch it right now. Watch it tonight with a glass of wine or in the morning with a cup of tea. Watch it with your mother, or your daughter, or your husband, or your son. Watch it with your journal in one hand and a fistful of earth in the other. 

Eve's story reminds us of our deep kinship with nature, of the emotional link between the bodies of women and the body we call Earth.  If her story reminds you of your story, seek out a healing moment in a place of intrinsic beauty--a moment as perfect as a flitting butterfly poised on a wild flower.  Let nature pollinate you.  Let it feed your art.  If you must choose between reading the rest of this post, or watching the video, please watch the video. 

Sometimes on the river women talk about how we have gathered at the water’s edge for thousands of years, and so we feel at home there. Sometimes, during the horse retreats in Wyoming, we talk about how we are fooled by the strength and grace of horses until we see them bolt and run. We are reminded then that horses are prey animals and suddenly we understand their desire to flee because we understand our own desire to flee, even in the face of our human predatory nature.

We understand strength and aggression even as we understand what it is to be powerless. We understand that we are emotional creatures before we are cerebral creatures, extensions of the earth as aware of our own internal turbulence, as of the external storms which ravish our paved shorelines and plowed fields and thatched huts. Our emotions are rooted to the earth and for many of us, this truth informs our stories, our poems, our art. But for some of us, like Eve Ensler, our bodies--these rooted appendages of the earth--have become something alien and separate, apart from who we understand ourselves to be.

For many of us, to stay connected to our own flesh and blood, to our own emotions, is too painful. And so we disembody ourselves. We hold our emotions at arms length. We separate ourselves from the earth because we recognize her wounds as our wounds.  We forget that when we walk on the earth, our footsteps are no different to the earth than are the cloven steps of a deer, or the fingerprint patterns of a crane.

Suddenly, my body, Eve Ensler’s impassioned new video on Ted.com, is difficult to watch. It is important to watch. It is about our relationship to ourselves and to the earth. If you get angry or filled with angst when you watch it, use these emotions to fuel your creative work.  Embrace the earth as you would a lover, then ask her forgiveness and write what really matters.

Write what will change the world.  Write what will heal the earth.  Write with your pen dipped in humbleness and your heart lifted to your highest hopes.

NOTE:  About Eve Ensler: The author of The Vagina Monologues, I first heard her speak in 2002 at a V-day fundraiser for the Cangleska Center for Women on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation near Rapid City, South Dakota. This week, August 9-11, 2011, Native women are gathered at Mystic Lake, Minnesota, for the 10th Annual Women Are Sacred Conference
PHOTO CREDITS:  Thank you to Pat Jurgens for the horse photo, and to John Gritts for the wild flower and field photo.  If you watched the video, I hope you will share your thoughts by leaving a comment.


Susan Gabriel said…
I watched it today, too, Page. It blew me away. What a gutsy, gutsy woman and I think she's right on target with how we women carry the pain and suffering of the earth in our bodies. Powerful stuff.
Page Lambert said…
Hi Susan. Yes, such a powerful, gutsy message. This is the underlying theme of the novel I've been working on for 8 years - that our emotions are made manifest in nature and that as long as there is turmoil in the human heart, there will be upheaval in the earth. Thank you for your note.

Yvonne Smith said…
Dear Page:

Thank you for that inspirational piece by Eve.

Do you ever get to Santa Fe? Would really love to catch up with you again if/when you do.


Harriet Rochlin said…
Hi Page:
Thanks for the tip! I too have seen some great monologues on TED!. I'll check out Ensler tonight. Harriet Rochlin
Mark said…
Hi Page,

Thanks for forwarding this, but I have a real problem with the EGO-Centric view of Ensler's "Suddenly My Body," more specifically that HER cancer is the cancer of the world. What about all the other suffering people? As if their isn't? Her view is the very opposite of someone like Thich Nhat Hahn, or Mother Teresa, Gandhi, or T.S. Eliot, where humility becomes a vaster way of communication? Ensler makes her suffering the center.

Best wishes,
Mark Irwin
Page Lambert said…
Mark, thanks for this thought-provoking comment. I hope it sparks some dialogue.

My interpretation of Eve’s focus on her cancer is very much what David Abram’s writes about in The Spell of the Sensuous: that we are all organs of this earth, and as such, the earth’s maladies are our diseases, and our diseases are manifestations of what is ill in the world.

I think she invites each and everyone of us to realize that we are all “swimming” in this larger context, that our lives—not just hers, but all of ours—are all intertwined.

She does end with “in my body” and yes, that sounds ego-centric, but I didn’t feel that language excluded me, but rather that she shared a very personal evolution of her own thinking so that the viewer would contemplate how his/her own illnesses might be manifestations of what is ill in the world.

Thanks, Mark. And thank you for your poetry. It is a gift.

Sandi said…
WOW!!! That is an amazing piece! I love TED talks. Thanks, Page.

Dana Kizzier said…
Page, thanks so much for bringing Eve Ensler's video to my attention. I just finished watching it. Wow. Powerful. I'm glad there's nothing I have to do tonight.

Eunice Boeve said…
A truth so evident and yet we cannot see because of the basic greed that lives within us. If we would stop hurting each other physically and emotionally, we could stop so much of the world's pain. And if we could be satisfield with enough food to eat, a moderate place to sleep,and change our wishes into needs, the world would heal and so would we.
Interesting talk, maybe a bit over the top. And the question remains, what happened to make her disconnect from her body? I'm suspecting child abuse, incest... My father was nice to me once on my 16th b-day. I think she needs to tell that story.
Thank you for the comment, Eunice. Yes, over the top in some ways, but I wonder if - in this loud and noisy world - if we don't all feel the need to be over the top in expressing our angst. We can start here, yes? With the person next to us, and the small patch of ground beneath our feet. Healing can start in this simple way.

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