When you look back, what do you see?
Every March, I take a look back – which is pretty natural because it’s my birthday month.
This March I’ll be turning 55 (double nickels, baby) which is older than some and younger than many. I’ve also been asked to moderate a panel for active duty and retired female military officers at a career conferencelater this week. The topic I’m moderating is “A Letter To Your Younger Self.”
Funny how everything’s coming together for me to be even more reflective this March.
In 1960, when I was born, the world was a much different place. Global population was about a third the size it is today, and it felt like there was plenty of open space here and out in the galaxy. We were a year away from a visit to space – the Soviet launch of Yuri Gagarin into Earth’s orbit followed closely by US astronaut Alan Shepard, in a demonstration of the competitiveness of the Cold War.
How surprised would the world have been in 1960 to learn that the Soviet Union would crumble and capitalism would come to Communist nations?
When I was born, the U.S. had segregation – Dr. King had yet to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and even though Brown vs. Board had been settled, few schools had been desegregated.
Could we even have fathomed the relative ordinariness of seeing people of color as CEOs, Presidents, politicians, doctors, lawyers and professors not only in the US, but around the world?
Women, in my childhood, had a slim choice of jobs if they wanted to work: nurse, teacher, secretary, waitress, domestic help or bookkeeper. Even the brightest women faced a thick, impenetrable glass ceiling.
Small Michele might not have believed what’s possible today. Had anyone said that she would grow up to work with executives around the world who want to get better at their jobs, and that she’d do it from home, most often wearing yoga pants and a fleece pullover, while making a very good living, Wee Michele probably would have asked:
But some things today are exactly the same as they were when I was born. And these are things I’m exceptionally glad for:
People still fall in love.
Folks still have best friends.
Most of us offer help when we see someone in trouble.
Children smile and the world is all right.
We cheer for the underdog and applaud our heroes.
We laugh at each other’s jokes.
Songs are sung.
Meals are shared.
Lips are kissed.
Yes, we humans still see possibilities.
We still make things happen.
We still believe.
And after all these years, and all that change, that’s the world I believe you and I really want.