Past, Present, and Future: Enchanted Vision
Our fortieth reunion is a moment when we consider our past, our present, and our future.
The path from past to present is marked by changes. This is a cliché, but it’s true. When we graduated in 1967, the post-World War II world was disappearing and the post-modern world was taking its place. We weren’t, strictly speaking, baby boomers, but our generation welcomed the transformation. One example: I recall the advice my senior year at one of the few workshops on campus about job hunting. If we wanted to go into publishing, become a secretary, we were told, and we just might be able to sneak into the profession.
In Anna Karenina, Tolstoy describes Kitty’s “enchanted vision of delightful colors, sounds, and motions” at the ball. I think of Kitty dancing at the ball as a quintessential Bryn Mawrter, a twin to Rosie Sayer in the African Queen as she flings off her hat going over the rapids and falls in love and saves the empire. These two women are very different yet the same: Each takes delight in the world and is certain that her life has joyous meaning.
Each of us in our own way has learned over the years the many different ways of the art of re-enchantment. We have, often by necessity rather than by choice, learned the art of renewing old dreams and finding new ones. We rediscover in our children that first enchanted vision that dazzled Kitty at her ball. For all the differences between 1967 and now, we have much in common with current students at Bryn Mawr: we are curious, we like to read, and above all, we certainly love a good conversation. After forty years, we are testimony to the power of that enchanted vision for the generations that follow us.
What will the future hold for us? In the public sphere, we hope for a lasting and just peace. We behold the world with wonder and hope even when we know that our world festers with injustice. I can impart no profound truth in these Class Remarks that diminishes the terrible imperfections of this world. But I speak with certainty when I tell you that we are as inquisitive as ever and, after this reunion, we go forth once again, “re-enchanted,” all of us an aging Kitty at the ball.
Penny Milbouer, President of the Class of 1967