Concerning White Rabbits (xiǎo bái tù)
“Wake up, Neo.
The Matrix has you.
Follow the White Rabbit.” — The Matrix
From the moment I was conscious as a child, maybe 2? All I could see in the world was what was wrong with it. Yes, there were glimpses of beauty in the color of the fall leaves and the glisten and smell of wet pavement after a heavy rainfall. But they weren’t tangible enough to make a lasting impression.
I’ve been told I lay on picnic blankets staring up at the tall trees of Inwood Hill Park and played with the seaweed and Horseshoe Crabs that used to be prevalent on Elbow Beach, before climate change really changed Bermuda. But as I searched through photo albums of myself as a child (which didn’t honestly exist, because the few pictures there were had been dribbled into my brothers’ many albums), all I found were solemn pictures of Big, Dark, Sad Eyes dressed up in formal, girly French silk dresses.
That said, I don’t think I “knew” there was something wrong, per se, it just wasn’t “right”. But it was all I knew, even vaguely. The visuals that are tangible were the homeless people along Columbus Avenue, fractured cab windows, brown grass in Central Park, strewn with broken bottles, and the stains surrounding the smell of stale urine and human despair.
In my own devoutly Roman Catholic home, the reverse seemed to be the case, gold-leafed furniture, perfectly preserved, because playing with balls and keeping pets weren’t allowed. Neither were the pants and short hair I desperately wanted to have. I remember trying to cut off all my own hair at maybe the age of 3, and being brutally punished for it. So, I cut off all the hair of the Barbie dolls I hated as well as that of the Madame Alexander baby doll I was supposed to be “looking after” instead.
I was taught Rigor, Discipline, Patience, Obedience, and Silence, when everything inside me wanted to SCREAM and PUNCH and KICK BALLS, and not conform to more discipline in a ballet class where the shackles came down harder. So, when I was submitted at about the age of 5 or 6 or 7 to the inanely awful Catholic anti-abortion propaganda of “The Silent Scream”, I think my brain short-circuited. LIES!
I somehow knew it was all lies, just like the anti-gay homophobia surrounding the AIDs crisis that was being hushed up. But there was nothing I could do about it at the time except aggressively debate every matter as I saw it, not as I was being brainwashed to perceive it.
Ever since then, I’ve taken myself down and around my own rabbit hole and its branching tunnels, to find and collect a lifetime of personal stories, projects, experiences, and connections across every field, discipline, race, religion, and profession to see the bigger picture happening outside my childhood eyes and the tunnel-vision of my upbringing.
I was looking for the connective tissues to the alternative system and framework that could disrupt the legacy systems and imbalances of power that suppressed all the underground potential I’d found in my solo travels to war zones, and former slave states — meeting human rights fighters, attorneys, peace-builders and documentarians.
And then, In September 2019, it all began to make a little more sense.
While tripping on LSD with my Psychedelics guide and friend, I guided him through Central Park — past the Sheep Meadow, no longer brown and strewn with broken bottles, and the Hans Christian Andersen statue no longer covered in graffiti — to the Alice in Wonderland Statuary, looking for something like Clarity and Purpose. I’d learned over recent years about the wonders of Magic Mushrooms, Molly, and Ayahuasca in terms of releasing internal demons. And I had plenty to let go of.
But that trip was a little more harrowing than expected, as I navigated dogs off-lead, children on loud scooters, and people asking me for directions to Lincoln Center.
I was also having a hard enough time seeing the melting path in front of me, or preventing myself from tripping over the morphing tree roots that kept getting in my way. Then, of course there were the looping and overlapping memories of trauma and sadness that kept forcing themselves front and center, demanding attention.
It was all too much for my post cancer brain to manage. So, I begged to go home to the safety, dark and quiet of my basement, which we did. And while still tripping, we started to watch The Fellowship of the Ring and look at all the art, bits and bobs surrounding us. When my friend’s eyes fell on the random, laughing, white porcelain monkey on a shelf, they lit up. “I’m a Monkey!” he declared. And I declared, “I’m a Rabbit”! And then, as if he’d been struck by lightning, he said” I knew it wasn’t an accident that we met. You’re my White Rabbit”
It was such an elusive but compelling thought, I had it tattooed on my left wrist. And I have stared at it ever since, wondering, “What does this mean”? Who/what was the White Rabbit to Alice, Who/what was the White Rabbit to Neo?
This past week finally brought it all home, as a fellow coach, friend and confidante told me, “You’re a Change-Agent, and another friend told me, “You’re giving your broken child a very powerful voice.”
Only days later Roe was overturned. And I collapsed. For 2 days I lay wondering what I had lived and worked for if a religiously-skewed court of law could just violate the separation of Church and State while reversing 50 years of settled law protecting women and simultaneously handing open-gun-carry laws to every unstable man?
But today, I know why. As I began connecting all those underground tunnels, nodes and networks to solutions that exist. And just need to be activated. It’s time for them to wake up and join me. And for other change-agents and White Rabbits to do the same.
Holly Lynch is a 20+ year ESG and DEI communications veteran, board member, strategist and investor who has helped individuals and companies tackle the toughest challenges, transitions and transformations in their worlds. Having survived countless life setbacks and two rounds with terminal cancer, while seeing the country-wide collapse of the systems and safety nets for the most vulnerable in and outside our communities, she is now shifting her life and career trajectories to focus on coaching and consulting with those facing down fundamental shifts and transitions as they try to adapt to change while rebuilding their lives and businesses during these unprecedented times.