It’s strange to use the words ‘untimely death’ about someone who would have been 90 in December, but among all those talking about the ‘soul’ of Barbara Marx Hubbard and its deliberate ‘decision’ to move to the other side, I personally believe she wasn’t quite ready to leave this earthly plane.
Barbara was extraordinary, not so much for what she achieved as for what she represented as a woman. I met her about 10 years ago, when Deepak Chopra and just about everybody you’d long to meet in the consciousness community were invited to come together at his center in California for a day-long discussion about what we were going to collectively ‘do’ about the catastrophic state of the world.
Barbara and I clicked immediately, in part because I share the same married name as her, and we often joked about being the two ‘old’ mother Hubbards.
But the truth was, there was nothing old about Barbara, then or up until the time of her death. She was one of the most youthfully optimistic people I’ve ever known.
In one sense, she was born at the wrong time, and came of age when the role of women was relegated to being homemaker and caregiver.
She dutifully produced five children, but while rocking cradles and changing diapers, something else stirred within her – a hunger to be at the center of the action, a desire born perhaps from her position as eldest daughter of the powerhouse toy tycoon Louis Marx and the loss of her mother to breast cancer when Barbara was just 13.
Three years later, in the midst of Barbara’s adolescence, the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
She maintained that that event was perhaps the defining moment of her life. She realized that the enormous destructive human potential that had produced the atomic bomb could be turned on its head and mined for our greatest creative potential.
In trying to give form to these longings, the mentors she sought out were great and powerful men: Teilhard de Chardin, Sri Aurobindo, Buckminster Fuller, Jonas Salk. And for much of her time, she believed in the power of co-creating a vision with a male partner.
She once wrote, “Even though I was a liberated woman in many ways in the 70s, the cultural imprint of feeling that a man would know best was so deep that it has taken a whole lifetime to free myself of that.”
Nevertheless, eventually these influences created in her the powerful conviction that she could do it, too, and that her life’s work was to be midwife to nothing less than humanity’s conscious evolution.
Barbara even came to believe that the political, social and economic turmoil the world is experiencing at present was evidence that humanity was in the midst of evolution to a higher state of being.
As described by Neale Donald Walsch in his book, The Mother of Invention, Barbara told him that once, while meditating, she felt a “’a vibrant field of Light that was ecstatic, joyful, beyond the field of physicality yet somehow connected to my own essential being . . . a continuation of my own self at a different frequency.’. . .For her consciousness had expanded beyond all the limits of her body. . . . Maybe, she thinks to herself, I’m mutating.”
Barbara WAS mutating, into amazing and explosive possibility. More than 20 years ago, she remarked: “At 76 I am deep into ‘regenopause.’ . . .When we enter menopause, and are no longer producing eggs—we ourselves are the ‘egg.’”
And as time wore on, like the word she coined, she kept getting younger, more energetic and productive, more infused with the certainty that there was more and more for her to do. Like many of her other friends, I never actually expected her to die.
Barbara didn’t have the time on earth to do more than launch the first mappings of the wondrous, complex evolution she imagined so many years ago.
But her primary genius was in simply being, in embodying the extraordinary certainty of possibility and positive change that could express itself in a woman at any time of her life. Barbara was never a woman ‘of a certain age.’ She was ageless and fearless, and she prompted other women to embrace the latter years as a time of immense creativity and freedom.
Barbara may not have understood it, but her greatest legacy was simply this: she taught all of us, all women of any age, to never stop thinking big.
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