On Fire Roosters and Pussy Hats: Owning Our Inner Disruptors

On January 21st, I’m going to strap a pink hand-knit symbolic vagina-with-ears to my head and join hundreds of thousands of women and men who will be marching through the streets of America’s cities.  

This is not how I ordinarily spend my Saturdays.

But, like so many of us, I feel compelled now to step out of my comfort zone (in my studio on my island with my thoughts) and take some action.  

As I gear up (literally and figuratively) for the march, it occurs to me that I am coming into a new relationship to a creative mode for which I've always held deep respect, but which I've largely disowned as part of my own Creative Constellation.  In the Creative Constellation framework, I call this way of creating the Disruptor mode.  

People with big, bright Disruptor stars in their constellations are change-makers who wake and shake their fellow humans out of whatever complacent stupor they’ve lapsed into.   They are people whose convictions are undeniable and world-changing.  From my gentle, water-loving and verdant little corner of the world, Disruption has, at best, been a glimmer in my Creative Constellation, and more often has been squarely in the “nope, not me” column.  

But, one of the things I love about the Creative Constellation framework is that it allows for our aspect to our stars to change over time.  Sometimes our constellations shift in relation to internal shifts in us arising from the changing seasons of our lives.  And sometimes, external shifts happen.  The world around us changes in ways that compel a response.

Here’s how the feminist playwright and activist Eve Ensler defines an activist:

“An activist is someone who cannot help but fight for something.  That person is not usually motivated by a need for power, or money, or fame, but in fact driven slightly mad by some injustice, some cruelty, some unfairness – So much so that he or she is compelled by some internal moral engine to act to make it better.” – Eve Ensler

Turns out, there are levels of injustice, cruelty, and unfairness that have the capacity to drive millions of us slightly mad and tip us toward the Disruptor star in our personal and collective skies.  And since the Disruptor star is burning brighter in many of our creative constellations these days, I thought I’d share a little excerpt about Disruptor mode from a “Guide to the Stars” e-book I’m writing to serve as a companion to the Creative Constellation Card Deck.  

Here’s a bit more detail about Disruptor mode:

Your creative drive as a Disruptor emerges from a profound discomfort with systems, structures, beliefs, practices, policies, or ways of being that don’t work, cause harm or serve as barriers to needed changes.  The broken, stagnant, or wrong-headed things that others either ignore or continue to prop up are like gargantuan peas under your mattress  -  they irritate the crap out of you to the point that you simply have to work to end them. 
Disruptors hold a particularly powerful and challenging place in the creating wheel:  They create the conditions for cultural regeneration by lighting and stoking the fires that burn away what needs to be put to an end.  In Disruptor mode, you guard the threshold where everything that has been previously created is either going to go around the cycle again to be strengthened and further developed, or it must be ended because it reflects neither truth nor beauty.   Disruptors are the midwives of the release phase of the creating cycle, poised to usher old ideas and cultural forms out of circulation.  They stir things up, rock boats, and force reckoning with uncomfortable truths.  They incite others to let go of what has come before and invite them to take a leap into an unknown future, a new space where regeneration is possible.  

The deeper challenge of this mode is that the place you are asking people to go is the place where the dragons are, the phase of the creating cycle marked by loss, confusion, uncertainty, and ambiguity.   However, you are so innately at odds with whatever the “old guard” is that you are willing to be unpopular and even a bit scary if it supports the greater good of shaking up the “bad old days.” Where others feel discomfort, you get excited – welcoming a little mayhem or discord as a positive sign that the old ways are cracking and making way for the new.”  

If the Disruptor star has not always been a major part of your creative constellation, here are two important  things to remember as you step forward now with your Disruptor energies activated:

First, I urge you to remember the core insight of the Creative Constellation idea:  Your purpose here is not necessarily to express only one form of creativity.  Your well-being and your ability to make an impact are tied to the expression of the full combination of creative drives that make up your constellation.  

This means you don’t have to become a full-time all-the-time Disruptor – even though in the short term this may feel like the only logical response.  Here’s why:  If you abruptly drop all your other ways of creating to strengthen your Disruptor self, you’ll burn yourself out with the fires of your own good intentions.  

I would urge you, instead, to look at the other creative modes that you’ve been developing and expressing in your life – whether you are a maker, an expressionist, a storyteller, a witness, a healer, an analyst, a choreographer, etc. etc. -  and ask yourself, how does the whole picture of my creating life shift if I bring Disruptor mode into new relationship with my other creative drives?  What would it look like to bring 5% more moral conviction to all the ways I create?  

  • If you are a healer, what would it look like to focus 5% more energy on healing those who are most likely to be burned by the fires of change, including those whose bodies and psyches are most vulnerable to the kinds of warfare now being waged, and those who are trying to fight for them?
  • If you are a witness, what would it look like to be 5% more consistent in sharing the view of truth as you see it from where you stand?
  • If you are a storyteller, what would it look like to commit 5% more to infusing the narratives you construct with the fire energy of courageous conviction?

Or, if your Disruptor star is now and has always been a major mode for you, ask yourself which other ways of creating might you tap into to spark innovative strategies for making change, and which might help to balance and nourish you so that you may sustain your perch at the threshold of disintegration.

And, let’s not forget that Disruptor mode is no different from any other creating mode in the sense that, to be part of the “Spiral Galaxy of Creating,” it must draw strength from the core practices of love, trust, play, inquiry, presence, practice, and audacity.  We are only genuinely creating when our actions are driven by the spirit of these core elements.  In their absence, we begin to spin out in the direction of fear and the un-creating cycle begins.

The love expressed through Disruptor mode is love for our fellow human beings - a love which we call justice.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. understood this perfectly:  

“Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”  

In the Chinese Zodiac, we are entering the year of the Rooster – and not just any Rooster, but the Fire Rooster.   In my poetic imagination, this gives all of us permission to get a little cocky and step forward with new audacity, helping to announce the new morning.  We don’t have to become narcissistic assholes to be confident and bold and even a bit fiery in our energies.  

And, we can tap our sense of play, too.  Let’s laugh together at the absurdity of wearing our pussies on our heads, even as we are serious as a house on fire about our refusal to play nice in the face of those who would diminish our humanity and annihilate the foundational supports for our full existence as diverse, embodied human beings.

Yes, I recognize that participating in the Seattle Women’s March this Saturday is not, in itself, going to correct everything that stands against love.  Far from it.  But it IS an action that signals my intention to fire up my inner Disruptor and see where she takes me.  Bring on the pussy hats!  I’m stepping out.  Perhaps I’ll see you there?