Guides to Life

I’m of the opinion that everyone needs four women, like points on a compass, by which to guide her life.  I don’t think that these are women you know.  Those fall into catagories of friends or mentors or beloved family members or lovers.  There are already words for that.  I mean women you don’t know, but just know of, who inspire you to think about the world from a broader angle than you would otherwise.  I only have two, though.  I’m not really bothered by this.  It may take a lifetime to come up with four.  What do I know?  I just made up the rule.

My two are, as always, Zora Neale Hurston, for her willingness to lie on the couch for days, naked except for one sock.  I always think about that, her willingness to go to the gods of the people she was studying and meet them face to face.  This, to me, is a kind of fierce religious tolerance.  This is not the mamby-pamby “Oh, I think you’re crazy, but I respect your right to act crazy as long as it doesn’t hurt me.”  This is, “I respect that what you say is the Truth as you understand it.”  Damn.

And Sigríð stórráða Tóstadóttir is my second.  I regularly need to be reminded that strong-willed, proud women kick butt.  And who is more strong-willed and proud than Sigríð?  Ha, too, I guess I must really value religious tolerance because here’s a woman who’s all like, “Hey, fine, you worship your God.  I’m going to stick with my ancestors and their gods.  I like them.”  Plus, you fuck with her, she will take you down.