A few days ago, I got started on this topic and then made a detour, but I want to return to it to offer some specifics.
The impetus came from the young woman I love with wild abandon, as only a mother can love her daughter. Mine has begun to appear via quotes in occasional newspaper articles, such as this one, because she works for a nonprofit in community development on housing issues in a city in which rampant unemployment has done tremendous damage. Her boss is also from our home city; his mother and I are friends. It's such a joy to see our young people as agents of change in the world. And to watch Marissa! She and I were just talking, for other reasons entirely, about her first big presentation -- the Montessori sixth grade speech. She spent weeks researching search-and-rescue dogs, and she was in complete command of herself when it was her turn to speak. It's so incredibly indescribably wonderful to see her as a poised and knowledgeable professional.
A second young woman I'm following these days is the daughter of a friend who's taken a year off between high school and college and begun to walk the Appalachian Trial. Her blog has been quiet for several days, so I hope that she's still out there and still safe ~ it will be another forty years before she knows what an inspiration she is to those of us who once toyed with similar ideas, but in the end stuck to the paths at home. Thanks to her, I have been adding links to various treks to my computer and thinking seriously about a sabbatical for the Camino de Santiago, the Camino Ignacio, or the Mountains-to-Sea Trail across North Carolina. Or maybe, eventually, all three!
I could mention others, but for today I'll close with Marci Glass, a Presbyterian pastor in Idaho. Not as young as my daughter and my friend's daughter, but young-er than I by a long shot! We met very briefly at General Assembly last summer, but I've gotten to know her a bit through her blog and through RevGals. What struck me and has stayed with me (although of course I have no idea how to find it) was a remark she made some months ago in reference to the reality that many women are deprived of a voice in this world by circumstances beyond their control. Marci said something to the effect of having an education and a pulpit and intending to use them. My circumstances are a bit different from hers, but my resources are not. She has given me a lot to think about and, I hope, to act upon.
I've been dealing with some discouraging stuff recently. But if I plan on being Awesome at Eighty, all I have to do, apparently, is look to young women for inspiration and courage. Here, once again, are the ones I think of as particularly awesome themselves, my daughter and her best friends from Montessori first grade onward at a college graduation party in our back yard. These days they are working at google, preparing for grad school, teaching in D.C., and, well, you know about the fourth one!