Midway up the block of Broderick Street between Geary and Post Streets in San Francisco's lower Pac Heights, there is a a gray building of condos. Right now there is a family living on the roof of this building. It is a family of seagulls. They have built a nest amid the "stuff" up there.
Their nest is surrounded by a rusted mini-grill, a small glass topped table, some overturned clay pots, crumpled newspapers, and a partial brown plastic crate. The babies were born last week and have already grown and are walking around with their parents. The babies do not look like what we think of as "typical" seagulls. They are brown with black dots on their fuzzy birth feathers. They are as cute and precious as babies everywhere.
In many ways, the seagull family represents what we think of as a "traditional" family. The father comes and goes; he protects the family from strangers, and he brings home food. The mother never leaves her babies. Like all families those roles will change as the babies grow and are eventually able to fly and take care of themselves.
In our world of Homo sapiens, the traditional family has been going through a metamorphosis since women declared that they "wanted it all." Meaning they want the partner, family, job, money, autonomy, and freedom. Freedom meaning the right to a self-created and self-fulfilled life. This idea took root during the Baby Boom generation. We wanted it all without knowing how much we were taking on! This falls into the long life chapter called 'be careful what you ask for!'
As I write about this generational shift it brings to mind the image of a grand Amazonian warrior - a woman who has embraced her power, has comfort in and reliance on her strong body, does not carry fear, but does have great awareness of strength in all beings. This enables her to walk with assurance and caution. In the days of the Amazon Warrior, villages raised children and they learned, among many other valuable lessons, that all beings can give love, care, and teach lessons of importance.
But as with change, when something is gained or found, usually something else is surrendered or lost. That is why grief is a lifelong part of each and every person's life.
I work in health care, along with many other women these days. Many of us who have offices with the bird's eye view of this new clan, have been watching the Seagull family since the birth. Many of us have been looking at this new family with some longing in our eyes and hearts.
So here we are in the early part of the 21st century. We live with more separation from our lives, thanks in large part to technology and ways of communicating, like social networks, audio/visual conference calls, and so many forms of home entertainment and modern conveniences that a person need never leave his or her home for anything!
If we are lucky we get 3 months to be with our babies after they are born before the work "machine" requires our return. Our children are raised with a lot of help from others - day care, family members, nannies, babysitters, schools, and other activities. And many nights we come home exhausted, needing something - food, wine, TV, computer games, etc. - to help us detach and decompress from days that are flooded with stress and demands from a myriad of "others."
Is it any wonder more people are having so many more medical problems in this country than other countries? The United States is the most workaholic nation on Planet Earth! Stress out our minds and spirits, and of course the body breaks down!
Every day the women I work with and I go to work. Many of us have begun starting our day by looking out the windows at the Seagull family. Oh yes, there is longing there - for simpler and less stressful times. Do we miss the nurturing times - you know - when we were nurtured and when we gave it to others? Now that's paying something worthwhile forward!
Can we create a way of living that includes a bit more nurturing time? The work and money making machine has a voracious appetite and a leonine bite on all who have entered that particular arena. Perhaps we need to dig deep and re-claim that Amazonian Warrior to help us pull back, if not out. Then we must also ask if we can pull back soon enough - while we still have enough love, strength, and nurturing left to help us meet our daily needs, and those of others around us.
While we keep paying more and more for the gas that drives our cars, the personal price we pay for our lives has inflation beat by miles and miles and miles... Today is a good day to begin.