As you may know, I am traveling and working in South America and, as luck or bad planning would have it, I am away on my mate’s 60th birthday. So rather than just sending flowers or waiting until I get home, I want to send this special birthday greeting and let you all know what a special lady Darlene is.
As you can see from this recent picture, Darlene is a beautiful and vibrant woman. What you might not know is that she is one of the most emotionally intelligent, serene and self-confident people I have ever met. For the past 30 years, she has been a lawyer in the Public Service and has done her job with a deep commitment to excellence and sincere respect for the public’s right to the best representation possible in a world where the deck is often stacked against the Crown. She has told me that, from time to time, she wonders if she has avoided risk by staying in Public Service, but I think she has expressed her caring for the greater good by risking to stay and be of service when it would have been easier and more lucrative to go into private practice.
She has worked selflessly and with good humor while raising a fine son and caring for her 92-year-old Mother.
Darlene is among the early Boomers to be approaching retirement sometime in the next few years. She is torn between looking forward to it and being anxious to be leaving many of her friends, a clear mission, resources and structure of support behind her. For my part, she is an example for all of us as she completes a Masters degree having to do with alternative ways to deal with institutional conflict in the world. She hasn’t decided when to retire yet, but is passionate in her commitment to leave only when she has found a bigger game to play—one that she will find personally satisfying while continuing to contribute to those she loves and cares about.
I met Darlene five years ago in a workshop I was leading for her organization. She was rock solid in her determination to not accept any premise I offered until she had digested and challenged it for herself. This sort of intellectual integrity and skepticism was her stock in trade, along with her willingness to embrace new ideas completely after she had considered them fully and found them valuable. This is the sort of rigor that we must have if we are to reinvent ourselves and our future as individuals or redesign those aspects of our culture that no longer serve us and that are, in some cases, self-destructive.
These few words only begin to declare the depth of my love and admiration for her and the gratitude I have for the home she has created for our family. I wish her the happiest of birthdays ever and I look forward to sharing our lives for many decades to come.