Written by Cassie Wilson
Resilience: “The ability to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness”
It is 11:37 PM at night. I have a purple lavender candle lit on my bedside table. The aroma throughout my room is warm, light, and engaging. It is somewhat cold on this luminous fall night. So, I lie inside my powdered blue blanket as I read the book “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur. It is a collection of poems that describes Kaur’s journey through what she describes as: “the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing.” I find myself smiling as I come across the word “resilience” in her poetry. I begin to read the poem as I take a hit from my mint flavored vape:
I want to apologize to all the women
I have called pretty
before I’ve called them intelligent or brave
I have been defined and addressed with many different words throughout my life, each one holding a very different kind of weight over me. Pretty. Beautiful. Sexy. These words were--yes, nice to the ears at times--but held no real significance to my soul. They were not deep. They were not personal. They simply sugar coated my physical features. These words did not describe my strength, my intelligence, my wisdom, my willpower. They did not even begin to express a small fragment of who I am as a person. I continue to read as these thoughts run marathons in my head:
I am sorry I made it sound as though
something as simple as what you’re born with
is the most you have to be proud of when your
spirit has crushed mountains
Kaur is expressing a public apology for glorifying the physicalness of a women’s appearance. She expresses that a women’s body or face is not the most important aspect of their spirit. When I think of myself as a person, my appearance does not even come to mind. The first thing is my compassion. The second, my kindness. The third, my resilience. I am not ashamed to say that the list of words that make up my spirit does not result to a “pretty”. A woman’s soul is extraordinary. A woman’s spirit is resilient. A woman’s strength is powerful. Kaur echoes these concepts as she closes the poem:
from now on i will say things like
you are resilient or you are extraordinary
not because i don’t think you’re pretty
but because you are so much more
Kaur emphasizes that she is not belittling a woman’s appearance, instead she is glorifying the greater parts. The woman’s spirit, soul, ambition, intelligence, wisdom. The list goes on. There are so many different components of a woman that make up who she is. This is not to be confused with the physical appearance. When I think of Gloria Steinem, who fiercely led the women’s liberation movement in the 60’s and 70’s I do not think “pretty”. When I think of Angela Davis, civil rights activist and powerful leader in the Black Rights Movement, I do not think “beautiful.” When I think of Rupi Kaur I do not think of “sexy”. These women and every woman is fierce, powerful, strong, intelligent, ambitious, and resilient.
You can read more about Rupi Kaur and her work at:
Cassie Wilson is a student at Pasadena City College. She says: "Rupi Kaur is a poet who speaks to my soul, and I am honored to write my perspective on her work."
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