"I sometimes teach classes on writing, during which I tell my students every single thing I know about the craft and habit. This takes approximately 45 minutes. I begin with my core belief—and the foundation of almost all wisdom traditions—that there is nothing you can buy, achieve, own, or rent that can fill up that hunger inside for a sense of fulfillment and wonder. But the good news is that creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty.
Then I bring up the bad news: You have to make time to do this."
Today Gloria Steinem turns eighty. But truth be told she looks like she is fifty. I know, I met her a few weeks ago. I was with my sister at our alma mater, MCLA, and Gloria was speaking. The setting was laid back, maybe a few hundred people, and Colleen and I were first in line to take our seats. (We even got in a little early to 'test' the stage before anyone had arrived.)
Listening to Gloria was every bit the exhilarating experience one would expect as a baby boomer, born in the very age that Gloria had taken a strong hold of the women's liberation movement. She propelled women's rights forward in only the way someone as smart, passionate, and honest as Gloria could. She admits to realizing her beginning in the feminist movement was when she was speaking out about abortion, it all clicked then, she says. She had one in her early twenties. She would later coin the phrase, "reproductive freedom" meant to describe a woman's right to have a child, or not. She says her abortion meant she was directing her own life and taking responsibility for it.
Ms. Steinem had lots of terrific things to say about women and motherhood the night I heard her speak. My favorite was she acknowledged women who stay home to raise their children as a third of our nation's workforce. She also said there should be tax laws to support stay at home parents, assigning their work an economic value that they could then make tax deductible when filing taxes. I got a chance to thank her personally for this, and she said to me, "Of course, I mean c'mon."
It was an exciting night. On our way back from talking with Gloria we, again, stopped by the podium we had visited earlier and my sister spontaneously grabbed the last of Gloria's tea.
That night, after being with an icon who lead women up out of the trenches of oppression with sheer determination and keen insight, right in the very age we were born, (we would have been about five and six when Gloria began her mission) we felt invigorated! And guess what? We each took a sip of tea, an elixir we felt, something that would confirm that she, Gloria Steinem, feminist leader of the twentieth, and twenty-first century, was a part of us! Of course, I mean what else could we do, c'mon.
: a magical liquid that can cure illness or extend life
: a substance held capable of changing base metals into gold
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
A year ago my brother was going through chemotherapy and radiation at this time. Today he is cancer free. He is coping with the changes in his life with the same grace he exhibited throughout the entire uphill climb, one step at a time, with discipline and with perseverance. It isn't easy.
Last year I walked over a hundred walks and said prayers on each of those walks that he would heal and find strength. I couldn't ask for a kinder, more loving brother, or friend. I am grateful we could walk this walk together.