Endurance and Allegiance

These are two words that had nested themselves into my vocabulary over the last 6 months. When I sweep over the words, they seem refined and charming, like something out of an old novel or play. Somewhat lofty and spoken from the moustached mouths of an elite few, over brandy and cigars in a wood panelled room. Given I have no moustache and I am one of many, why and how do they relate to me?

I think the reason they kept popping up is due to an inordinate sense of adversity on a global scale. I’ve been following a few stories about fragmented communities fighting and at war over details and rights. I’ve watched with keen interest the leaders who plyed minorities with false news and influence to sway votes at the expense of a united and humanitarian whole. Whilst trying to stay a compassionate course, until poor leadership is held to account and rectified, I’ve needed two nouns, endurance and allegiance. At times I’ve even walked them as verbs. Although my concerns have been at a global level how do you apply these high-falutin words when adversity strikes at a grass roots level and it gets tough? I don’t mean the “I’ve run out of mascara” or “my custom shoes are not the right tone” kind of tough… I mean my kids father stopped paying child support, I’ve been diagnosed with a fast-growing tumour, my sons partner is pregnant at 15 or any one of a million really tough challenges life serves us; it is only really then that these two words bare their open palms in surrender to take on the weight of burden. That is when you can draw on their noble strength.

Endurance… such an old school word. It speaks to me of making the integrous decision, not the easy one, and sticking to it through whatever the next stage deals out. Until you get to the end. When you look at the word it begins, ironically, with the word end. End urance.  Endurance doesn’t offer a choice. It pushes and aches along, tears streaming, feet kicking or teeth silently grinding until the finish. A truer sense of endurance is the acknowledgement of no completion and the potential that there is no finish. We rely on a great deal of faith to endure something tough. Not religion or absent minded no questions asked following, I mean the kind of faith that sits solid in your gut. The faith of fortitude and stern talking to yourself and holding your chin up to get you through to the next moment for no other reason than you simply have to. Endurance is staring down the adversity, eyeballing it close enough to feel the warmth of its acrid exhalation on your cheeks and whispering on trembling breath – I won’t give in… e v e r! This is the stuff of breath taking inspiration. It’s commonly beautiful and it’s happening every second. People with this level of endurance are the stable and solid types that sit you on your complaining and whinging arse and through their actions compel you to see through your problems and realise that there is much more to be done – not just saying it, not whinging, not procrastinating, not putting it on a to do list but actually just doing it. Endure whatever it is you need to get this thing done. That tiresome and relentless action is endurance… and I’m reminded of it daily in listening and paying attention to the real and ordinary stories of people who are leading their lives, knowing they are themselves suffering and knowing that they have issues but enduring them none the less as best as they can. That right there, my dear friends, is endurance…

Allegiance is another one of these old-fashioned words that superficially sounds like a salute or a military command. Somewhat like “Ahhh ten shun” that is shouted at a flag in staccato, spit flying from the lips of passionate fighters. If you slow the pronunciation down and let the flick of your tongue slowly slide its way from the L to fill your mouth with the G and release through the S, it is a warm, rich and generous word. It feels more like the slow spinning of a wheel, the weaving of a basket or an intricate knot. Something that swirls and doubles back on itself with no beginning or end. An infinity symbol or the sight of fingers interlaced whilst holding hands. In my mind allegiance is about knowing your curves and your edges. Knowing your values and sticking with them even when challenged. At a time when statistics and data are a lubricant for fast and slippery populist opinion, allegiance heralds and calls out lived experience and it relies on a deep trust in oneself. I don’t believe it is a rigid position that reserves room for a select few who dig their heels in. The word begins with all. All egiance. It is an acknowledgement of the collective and an acknowledgement that we cannot all be the same but we will stand united despite it. When brash loud voices are staking fence posts and stringing barbed wire around small, hateful and fearful ideas, allegiance is called upon to throw blankets over the wire to enable escape. It gives voice to the sensibilities and the needs of the quiet ones. Allegiance is a calling to all, with honest voices shaking and eye brows and voices raised an octave too high that gives way to the vulnerability of unplanned passion rather than stoic position. It’s a cry to question and challenge whilst soothing and holding community. If we continue to fragment society over small, data driven, populist sentiment we will lose the qualities and benefits of connecting to the core of being human. Allegiance asks for hand holding, interlacing fingers and threading back on itself, for finding a commonality by which we all are made stronger individually and as a society of equal human being.

I admire your endurance and I would like to ask for allegiance from men and women to support one another. If we are continually pitted against one another, we are distracted by the act of fighting in gutters that were built for clearing runoff and waste and not for the collection and re-distribution of feminine wisdom and female empowerment. How can we lift each other and build gender equality if we are bringing one another down? We can choose to build allegiance to womanhood, femininity, the sisterhood, the divine, call it whatever you would like… we are all in this together and we are striving for an existence based on equality. So, I’m reframing allegiance as a strong and elegant ownership of truth. Allegiance is the display of daily acts of living respectfully for all women. It’s a commitment to knowing who I am, warts and all, and offering my hand to another warts and all woman so she can feel my presence and strength when she is in need. And you know, we all need that warm friendly hand at times. Right there… that’s allegiance. What do you think grass roots endurance and allegiance require? Let us know your story…


Photo by Kristina Litvjak on Unsplash