Reflecting on the Sixties

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America in the sixties: A time of awakening for American women.

Decades passed. We bought boots made for walking, roared “I am Woman” for all to hear, traveled on the wild side without guilt, wore pants to work and carried macho leather briefcases filled with business plans and stock options. We flexed our corporate muscle and refused to be interrupted in the boardroom. We became warriors and could throw a verbal javelin worthy of any Olympic champion. It was a time of great triumph and boundless opportunity. Was it easy? No, it wasn’t.

But it was exhilarating and we fed at the trough of wealth giddy with the taste of power, spread our intellectual seeds and watched our worlds transform under lifted wings. There were no limits. We soared and our egos were fed with applause from our sisters and colleagues. We were free.

Years later, on this Sunday morning, I look back and ask, “Was it good? Was it worth it? Did it work? Am I happy with the way things went?”

Yes, a resounding yes. But what were the sacrifices? What did I lose along the way? And, what did I gain?

As we tip toed through the strawberry fields of forever, something had to give. The sacrifice for many of us was time. We became slaves to the clock. There were never enough hours in the day. Time was measured in the number of meetings we could schedule in a day. It was lost in airports, spent in taxicabs, squandered in rush hour and crowded parking garages. We rode in elevators, sat at desks, hired someone else to type for us and quit the steno pool and time slipped away. We jostled and jockeyed and raced to finish line after finish line…and we won!

On this beautiful morning, as the world awakens and the sun is thinking about starting a new day, I pause to evaluate and I am grateful.

Thank you to those women who worked so tirelessly to give me the opportunities that I have. Thank you to the men who made room for one more. Thank you to my ancestors, parents, children and grandchildren who grace my days and provide comfort at the night-fires. Thank you to all those in my circle of life who stood by me as I grew up and who tolerated me as I became a lioness roaring at the wilderness.

And, now, on this quiet morning, I am given yet another gift. It is one that eluded me for years as I fought for air. It is the gift of gentleness. With this gift comes a sense of slower time and an appreciation for peace. The clock moves at the same pace, but, because I am keenly aware of everything around me, it feels slower, quieter.

The javelin rests in the corner. I do not need it anymore. I have gained life and love and all the power that comes with the knowledge only experience can bring. I am ready for the battles that will come, but will engage only when necessary and with quiet conviction that my personal wars have subsided.

I caress the world and everyone in it, for in this gentle moment, on this beautiful Sunday morning, I am one with you.

This what I have gained. This is what I share with you, my daughters, my friends.

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(Cirina Catania, February 10, 2013)