I do believe this is the first post in this blog whose title relates directly back to the book the blog is named for.
For the last month or so, I’ve been reading my kids “A Wrinkle in Time”, because it was time to start doing longer bedtime stories, and this is my all-time favorite novel. Who knew that the bits about resisting fascism might actually be relevant soon, eh?
At any rate, we have just gotten to IT. One of my favorite parts of the book, because this is where Meg finally gets to shine. For most of the novel, our hero, Meg, is clumsy and grumpy, stubborn and irrational. Everyone else in the story, even (especially) her five-year-old brother is better at adapting to change than she is. I mean, she can’t even handle a simple tesser through a dark, evil force. Silly girl.
But on Camazotz, Meg shows us why she’s the hero. Mrs. Whatsit says to her, “Meg, I give you your faults.” Meg’s faults are what she needs to get her through what’s going to happen next. Meg’s faults are what she needs to survive the darkest experience of her life. Her stubbornness. Her refusal to just take other people at their word. Her persistent need to win an argument. Her inability to just be a “nice girl” and “try to get along”.
Today, FOR THE FIRST TIME, I saw the message about what it means to be a woman. It was there, looking at me, for 38 years (This book was first read to me when I was about 5 years old, and I read my first copy until it fell apart, then bought another), but I needed to be a pissed-off 43-year-old woman who thrives due to her “faults” to see it.
Meg’s faults are all those things that make it hard for her to fit in. She won’t lie down. She won’t do as she’s told. She refuses to accept that the world isn’t fair. She keeps fighting. She knows that like and equal are not the same thing at all.
The way it goes down is this: Three witches/goddesses/former stars/angels come to take Meg and her brother (and, incidentally, Calvin), to enlist their help in saving the universe from Evil. Along the way, these three women give each child a gift, something to help them to prevail in the battle ahead. Meg’s gift from the youngest of the three is something she already has: her faults.
The message? To prevail in the battle to come, as a woman, you must embrace those things that everyone tells you to strive to “fix”. You must learn to argue. You must be stubborn. You must refuse to shut up. You must not give up.
And then there’s one more gift. Later. After she learns to use the first one.
Spoiler alert: Meg wins. Meg is the hero. She uses her innate stubbornness, her argumentativeness, and her refusal to submit to defeat IT, save her father, her brother, and the universe. And she grows up in the process.
It’s a story about what it means, as a woman, to survive, and to grow up.
It speaks to me because a lot of my success comes from aspects of my personality that piss other people the hell off. I’m argumentative. I’m opinionated. I’m pushy. I’m persistent (ye gods, am I persistent). All of these are things that people have tried to train out of me. All of these are things my husband and I have had arguments over. And all of these are also things my husband loves me for, and things that have resulted in a fair amount of success in life.
This week, I feel like we need to remember that our greatest faults can also be our greatest strengths. One of my faults is a tendency to let relationships that are bad for me deteriorate and NOT feel bad about it. I know, it doesn’t sound like a fault…but tell that to family you’ve decided you just don’t want to be family with anymore. THEY think it’s a fault, for sure.
This week, though…I think this is a strength. There’s been enough pretending that unacceptable behavior is tolerable just to preserve relationships. I mean this on every level: family relationships, friendships, political relationships. Some things are not okay. Some things are worth ending relationships over. Sometimes it’s okay to decide NOT to bridge a gap.
Reread your favorite books. You always pull something new out of them.
I give you your faults.