I am a child of privilege. By birth, skin color, education, and scented soap in the shower. My first word was not Mama but most likely, “why?!”. Education encouraged me to question, to challenge, to be an instrument of change, and to be not afraid of any of that.
I have had jobs that some would judge as unworthy of my degrees/education status. Any job I left, I did so voluntarily, to move on to something more interesting or productive, with valuable experience and no regrets.
Now at the age of an Elder, I have learned, explored, experienced life in ways many people never even think about. “Fate” has plonked opportunities in front of me and I have responded. That in itself is a privilege, to identify the opportunities and be willing to jump in. Some would say that I have had my failures, depending on how they see my situation(s); others would say, as I do with gratitude, “what a learning experience!” It has not been without pain, loss and re-orientation, and not just for me.
And now I watch as the world as I have understood it, is apparently falling apart, with a pandemic and riots reminiscent of the 1960’s. The unrest at that time propelled me to move overseas. 20 years later, I returned at the behest of a loved one, and stayed.
In the 1950’s, a family member referred to U.S. society at that time, as an encore of the Fall of Rome. If she were living now, I wonder how she would describe our culture. The French Revolution would probably factor into her perception. Each enquiring generation has had their own take on what was happening at the time.
Have I fulfilled the responsibilities imposed by my privileges? Frankly, I have bumped along, doing the best I could. Although I have been subject to the human characteristic of wanting to fit in, I have not been overly concerned with the judgements of others, and have instead embraced them as a challenge. Which puts me squarely where I am now.
Change, loss, taxes and death. The inevitables of living as a human in the United States. Inevitables. I know that’s not a “real” word, but it is now, because I have used it. Another challenge observed and met.
At my age, loss looms above change, taxes and death. Every loss evokes a memory of a previous loss; they tend to compound one another unless faced and resolved. As a society, we are facing multiple losses which cry out to be resolved into new dimensions of growth and understanding.
How successful we will be at resolution, growth and understanding has yet to be seen.
In the meantime, everyone is fed, cleaned up after, laundry is done, and the cheese soufflé is ready to go into the oven. Life goes on. Whether we want it to, or not.