Breaking the Infinite Vortex: The mandate of the Matriarchal Story

Breaking a cycle is not easy when your stories follow certain conventions: story *bibles* mandate that certain things happen in a certain order and that characters are consistent with their core beliefs and behaviours. When I taught Ideas in TV and Film as a Language Studies professor way back when, the mid-term exam had my students watching two episodes of *The Monkees* -- and episode from each of the two seasons, and then determining what elements of the show were set in stone.

Besides having students singing *I’m A Believer* as they used their desks as drums, they could easily find the sitcom’s scripture: one student was so good at it, he needed only a few words to nail it with every question, while others used diagrams, yet they all could see the dialogue with basic words, that Davy was the Cute One, Mickey was the Funny One, Peter was the Dumb One, and Mike was the Smart One.

They all gleaned that the main characters never really learned anything and did not grow from Season One to Season Two. They were Seinfeldian characters decades ahead of their time. They had no need to spread their wings: they were good, cute, and silly, and never needed to change because no matter what sorts of troubles they found themselves in – and they always found themselves in the same sort of trouble (could never pay rent, get steady gigs that would land them a recording contract, and they never could sustain a stable romantic relationship, for instance), it would all work out by the end of the episode.

Yet they would face the same dilemmas week after week.

How well did it work out for them?

Their dilemmas became increasingly surreal as they found themselves amid lady biker gangs or haunted mansions, yet they could never pull themselves out of their base problems.

The story structure was a Patriarchal One. It was not about overall growing and changing, but being victorious at the end of the story.

There is a book called *Dancing with Your Dark Horse* written by a well-known horse trainer who found himself at the receiving end of some very bad publicity and the book chronicles his woes. He deftly described life as a spiral staircase – sometimes you feel as if you are going around in circles, but what often happens is while you may be going in circles, you are slowly moving upwards, facing the same problems, but the next *level* of them.

It is a game way of explaining away the circle because what he describes is a *vortex* where you get sucked into the cycle where you still not only *don’t* solve the problem, but the problems become increasingly *worse*. Yes, you get wiser and have more experience in dealing with the problem – but one that never lets go of you.

It is an infinite loop and much about our daily lives involves supporting that loop at our own peril. Governments thrive on creating mazes of loops where no problem is ever truly solved. We build careers banking on these loops. We are trained to accept those loops, justifying them and terrified of our futures without them.

Medicine has shifted its focus from cures to maintenance. A healthy person who sees a specialist will get a next appointment six months from the time he was declared to be without defect or illness.

Once upon a time, buildings could stand for centuries. Now, many are in disrepair only months after being built. You could count on your telephone working for years without springing for another, yet now we have smartphones that break or are obsolete months later.

The same problems come again, sucking away our time, resources, memory, patience, confidence, and money. We have become in tune with loops, not thinking twice about whether or not they are innate, necessary, or even desirable.

We often call our loops *habits*, routines, rituals, culture, tradition, protocol, or addictions. We have those who, once they enter a loop, have no way of leaving it and begin to justify their blind adherence to it.

They hold on to their smart phone as they stare at them at every waking moment. They always have the same arguments with their significant other – and once they are in a relationship with him, cannot break away from the loop. Others cannot sustain a relationship and that it is the loop they find themselves in as commitment would be the biggest threat to the loop’s existence.

Can you walk away from a computer game? Can you stop being a pleaser? Can you take advice from another? Can you stop following just *one* thread in your weave of loops?

In Patriarchal storytelling, the answer is no. We learn to negotiate with the vortex. We can walk through it as a spiral staircase, encountering the same problems time and again, but mastering it in order to face the next level of difficulty.

The Matriarchal is about grains and gathering – if the loop is a single entity, the mandate of the Matriarchal is to understand the grains but breaking the whole down, measuring the grains as we understand their content and purpose, and then breaking away from the infinite loop once and for all.

We are not going in circles. We are not walking a spiral staircase. We are exploring the world and breaking those confines, finding new and innovative ways to do things as we finish what we start.

If a woman’s work is never done, there is no point in doing the same old chores. Because the Matriarchal is about the Infinite, there is much ground to cover, and piddling with the same confining set of problems holds us back. Resolution is key. Finding new purposes is essential to growth. We have distinct eras in our lives as we grow and change. We can begin speaking one language in one country as a child before immigrating to another and becoming fluent in another tongue.

We change jobs. We drop and add new friends. We find new partners to share our lives – or our business endeavours once we see our motives for choosing our previous pick were less than noble.

Matriarchal is about changing and evolving. It is not about holding on to a status quo lest we lose the reins of power. Our place changes without us getting lost amid the grains because we learn those grains can make castles and gardens – not maddening infinite loops.

We can learn to improve, while we build with eternity in mind: why create the things or concepts that will collapse when it wastes our time and resources, slowly eating away at our collective confidence when we could build quality today so we are secure with what we have and our abilities so we can boldly tackle new worlds with tools that we know will work for us?

Matriarchal storytelling is about legacy: we do not blindly adhere to mindless traditions for social cohesion, but we honour those who solved problems in order for new generations not to be haunted by them. We are not held back by past cruelties or neglects. We don’t repeat the mistakes of the past because we honour that past as we aim for the future.

We learn to respect fluidity in the Matriarchal: we can see the past, future, and present at once to compare and contrast them. We examine the triumphs as well as the tragedies and weigh them carefully as we think about tomorrow. We not only honour the past because it is the reference, but we live in the present because it is the purpose, knowing that we are planning for a better future because it is the reward.

We often have no appreciation or connection to the past or the future, but living in an infinite vortex often hints that we have no connection or appreciation with the *present*, either. Many have a context with the present – to get through the day and survive it – and we often refer to those people as living in the Now.

Yet they do not have a purpose to the present. It is often misspent or prayed to be the soon to be forgotten past.

If you do not like your present, you cannot escape to the future because you will despise the past. You have no hope of ever escaping the loop of misery because you can never see anything outside the loop that you believe is truth and reality when it is neither. It is a mere misperception.

The mandate of the Matriarchal is to question every vortex we encounter. We can see who is banking on luring others into a vortex to alter their view of reality, rigging the vortex so that they are always victorious. They manipulate the mind as well as the heart, dragging others into fights and the false belief that they are *winning* or *evolving* when the truth is that they are just *stuck* because it has become a false comfort zone and they are now afraid of life outside of it. They do not want to admit they were suckered into the loop or that they may be too weak to break away, but the Matriarchal is the guide that shows how to break down those loops as we take the grains to build a better tomorrow where we use yesterdays to make todays one of thrills and escapades of new paths.