"Remember, as different as we are, you and I, we are of one spirit. As dissimilar as we are, you and I, we are of equal worth. Unlike each other as you and I are, there can be no harmony in the universe as long as there is no harmony between us."
-- Changing Woman
There is a Navajo Indian legend of Changing Woman, or Asdzaa Nadleehe. Changing Woman represents the cyclical path of the seasons, born in spring, maturing in summer, growing old in the fall, and dying in winter. Upon encountering this brief description of the revered mythical woman, I felt an undeniable affinity to her. I identified with Changing Woman, my moods so often cyclically aligned with the seasons. My connection with Changing Woman was not solitary; rather I found myself among a great sisterhood.
In the spring, rebirth arrives, and I await the sunshine and the warmth as desperately as an addict craving the next fix. I need the snow to melt as severely as I need air to breathe, for with the melting of the snow comes also a sloughing off of my heavy depression. In the summer, beneath the nurturing rays of the sun, I bloom and grow. I feel joy and contentment, expressing greater gratitude for the gifts of this earth. I feel more connected to the universe when I am able to smell the dew on green grass or relax in the sandy pebbles of lake beaches. As Changing Woman was a child of the Earth, I feel most alive when the land too seems to be at its greatest height -- when the heat most warms the body, the trees bloom the boldest, and the birds chirp the loudest.
As autumn arrives, and the leaves celebrate change in a brilliant display of colors, another shift falls upon me. There is a mellowing in mood, yet this is no cause for sorrow. My heart does not grow somber, but instead overflows with warmth and wisdom. The breezes blow through my body’s frame, reminding me to keep moving on for my maturation and search for knowledge should be a journey without end. Despite these blessings of astuteness and cool comfort, I suddenly become stunted with the violent approach of the proceeding season.
Winter comes on like a heart attack, dropping me to my knees. My heart literally aches and my tears fall like snow, creating icicles inside my soul. It becomes increasingly difficult to arise, smile, laugh, as this illness builds inside me. I lose myself and become a shell of that exuberant summer girl. My mind turns to darkness and a piece of me expires with every wicked winter. As Changing Woman alters herself continuously, but never dies, I do not fully decease either for then spring arrives and rebirth accompanies her arrival.
My own ever-changing moods often cause me to doubt my value. Who would wish to be companion to a woman who cannot be constant? We all desire smooth sailing, yet rough waters rush alongside me. When self-loathing floods upon me, I then wait for the words of an unknown source to gently remind me that the most beautiful stones have been tossed by the wind, washed by the waters, and polished to brilliance by life’s strongest storms.
Like Mother Nature, who brings those winds and waters, Changing Woman represents the power of the earth and of women to create and sustain life. I alone am not Changing Woman; each member of my gender is this legendary goddess. Among the Navajo, becoming a woman is something to be proud of and announce to the community. Therefore, my fellow women, let us stand together and announce our brilliance, not despite, but because of our many battles. We can create, change, and witness our own rebirths. Although we differ in many ways, we each have worth in this world.