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Sunday, March 8, 2020

International Women's Day, 2020

On this International Women's Day, I'd like to do something unexpected:

I would like to thank all of the men in my life who have brought me to this point.

There have been many in my life thus far: wonderful examples, struggling examples, strong examples, confused examples, giving examples, brave examples.....all of you have made me more aware, in some way, of what it is to be a woman. Grandfathers, fathers, uncles, brothers, cousins, friends, bosses, lovers, coworkers, leaders, followers, service providers, musicians, artists, creators, doctors, lawyers, businessmen, farmers, bakers, working men, white collar men, busdrivers, soldiers, sailors, tough guys, soft spoken and steel-eyed guys, doctors, scientists...strivers, stragglers….earnest, seeking men, and arrogant, thoughtless men......lonely, anxious men, and happy, family, comforting men....thoughtless, selfless men, and brash, attention-seeking problem solvers, and world problem makers...….(although that last, less so, to be sure...) - without you there would be no me, you see.

Thank you for loving us, for those who do the majority of the time. Thank you for remembering that our functions make our functions different, sometimes, in approach - but not weaker, and no less earnest and striving. This should never make you feel inferior. It should always make you feel accompanied in life, in whatever capacity your life takes you, and in whatever manner this company, this effort, and this outlook has made an influence on the way and manner in which you move through life.

Thank you for seeking my input and my outlook, when your own did not seem quite whole to you; not quite complete; not quite the whole picture, and you could not quite fathom what was missing.  Thank you for letting me complement your vision. Thank you for understanding that I have my own, and that you are always a part of it - but not the only thing. This is the way I am, by nature.  

I am your other half: your argument's consideration, your joy's secret delight at having delighted (even when you don't want to admit it); your reason for striving an extra hour, seeking that admiration and wanting to know that you have had that extra strength, that extra impossible need to try harder -  for those you love; your friend, even when your desires do not extend to me, although I mourn that this is so, in an old, old way, born of all that is need and concern and love, without judgement, when you say it is so, and I balk at the idea of competing, finally, and simply will not. When it does not involve this aspect of life - because it is far from the only one - I am joyous that my company has meaning and purpose and joy to you, even and especially without the physical. At what I hope is an effort-preserved 55 - but only so I can still do things, and accomplish them with the shell with which I do so, and not so much vanity, to be honest, as perhaps I should have  - I understand these matters better than when I was youthful, and all was passion and heat and children's laughter, and urgency; after ten years away and a distinct distaste for my own natural functions, I have learned a different stillness, a desire for your thoughts; a need for your friendship and an acceptance of my equality, because I truly feel up to it, having done it for so long, without you. Now I cannot accept one or the other: if I cannot have both I will have none of the one, and only the other. I would have both, at heart, but will not compromise with the lesser and the least; the debasement of my self as if I am not there, when I am, yearning. I have learned that those of you who shame me for these feelings never really loved me. I hope you will love someone else, more deeply.

To be certain, to have had this example has made for some difficult expectations in one's own life, but the time without it has made the time with it, however brief, more treasured.

Thank you for the beauty and the purposeful, helpful efforts and results you have brought to my life.

This is the way and means of things, when expectation is for a desire that is less vessel, and more expressive completion; there is no emptying....only exhausted relief at the found, spooned into and of, resting: joy at knowingness and companion, discussion and volley, relief at teasing and reminder and gentle nudge towards better...less spiral into the empty of self that is suddenly filled.

Thank you for remembering me with the simplest of things, and the most complex; thank you for understanding my anger - and helping other men understand it - when you were not who you wanted to be, and related to me in the worst possible way - and understanding and accepting blame for the end of it, when I told you that this was so, and insisted upon the better. Through this, you learned to appreciate me, and when you did not, your life was lessened in my absence, until you did, and I truly wished that it could have been different. For those whose lives do not include me - as I speak of "being woman" - thank you for looking for me, still, but finding, in those women around you, many of the qualities you have suddenly become more aware of, more grateful for, less entitled to, in your own mind, than you may have thought in the past. We are both the better for it, I assure you. We are all the better for it, I assure you. We are we, then. You must keep trying, if you can. Let me help you, when you can't.

Thank you for understanding when and why it is preferable to be without you, in ways and means that demand a different sort of man from you, even when you balk against this evolving in yourself, when this is so. You will know me in a very different, delightfully stimulating way, if only you would allow yourself to develop this quality, this bond, this sharing of fragilities, and melding of strengths, this different part of you, that is more than making another you.

But today....thank you for celebrating me in your life, in other's lives, and in life. You cannot imagine how much love this makes me feel, in the knowing....but all the rest of the days might contain the continued efforts, and the continued feelings, if you take the time to continue to notice them. I will renew my own with an earnest heart, because you have done so.

We will be we, forever.

Happy International Women's Day, 2020 - a year of visions and hopes and efforts, realized.    Thank you, men.