- Marsha-Ann Donaldson-Brown: What Do You Have to Let Go of to be Liberated? Patrick Huey 43:49
Ghosts and Wedding Dresses.
Miss Havisham is one of Charles Dickens most complex and unforgettable characters in all of literature. When we meet her in his novel Great Expectations, she has literally become mummified in her tattered wedding dress and in her love for the man who left her jilted at the marriage altar. The clocks in her decaying mansion stopped to the exact moment when she received the news of her groom-to-be’s betrayal. The wedding cake still on the table, uneaten, no doubt decaying with rot like her skin, which has not felt the warmth of the sun in many years. Her suffering is operatic. It is one of the anchors of the book’s angst-filled love story between Pip and Estella. Miss Havisham is both ghoul and tragic angel, heroine and antagonist, ultimately consumed in the flames of her lost love.
It’s the New Year. And we are all being inundated with memes, quotes, and advice on how we are supposed to step into 2023 with a new mojo. How we are supposed to embrace a new perspective on how we are supposed to live old lives. How this year is going to be different from all the other new years past. How our best lives are ahead of us if only we could… What? Step out of the past hurts and disappointments (I wanted to say failures, but they are making a comeback as things we should experience)? Forgive that person who we’ve been harboring a grudge against for years (a missing father, a cheating lover, an untrue friend)? Chase the dreams we’ve sacrificed for convenience and comfort sakes (write that novel, leave that soul-numbing corporate job, take salsa dancing lessons)?
Marsha-Ann Donaldson-Brown breaks it down in this one phrase. “At the end of the day, know this, all you have is this one life. And you are deserving of living it fully, with intention, with peace, love, and joy unspeakable. And nothing or no one is worth it for you to be dragging through life broken.” She gives us two stark choices. We can either have a life of joy unspeakable (which somehow feels more potent than unspeakable joy when she says it), or we can drag through life broken, like Miss Havisham, our wedding finery turned into widows’ weeds. And we better make a choice because it isn’t about living our best lives. What we are walking through, either asleep or awake, is our only life, and time unmercifully marches on.
Marsha-Ann’s call is not a placid, genteel nudge into mindfulness and self-acceptance. She disruptively advocates for acts of radical self-interest, radical self-love, and radical self-awareness. The alternative she paints is too difficult to contemplate. “If we’re not careful, we’ll live life in a time-capsule, trapped in the dogma of what society says, or what has been said to us. I’m on a mission now to embrace that within this season we occupy that we’re living it fully.”
Ultimately, Marsha-Ann invites us to a life of liberation and a different kind of “wokeness.” Where we shed the imprisoning decay of expectations, self-doubt, and things past that hold us back. Deliverance. Freedom. So that we can soar like an eagle with the delicacy of a butterfly.
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