I hope that you won’t mind that I’m going to go a little “off track” today. I’m writing this sitting in a Starbucks in Camarillo, California. We flew down yesterday to be part of a moment in history. It isn’t often in our lives, I think, that we get opportunities to really participate in real change. As it seems to be the season of change in my own life it just seemed like something that I needed to do; to be here, to be part of this momentous occasion. As he said in his wonderful acceptance speech last night: “It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.” As a Canadian I can tell you that this isn’t just a defining moment for America, it’s a defining moment for all of us.
I woke up this morning thinking about defining moments, reflecting on what those have been in my life. Far too many of those moments are tied to some tragic event; the assassination of John F. Kennedy, of Robert Kennedy, of Martin Luther King, 9/11. Rarely have they been positive moments connected to anything political. For me, the exception to that would be with my political awakening when Pierre Elliot Trudeau won the Liberal party leadership race in 1968. Like Obama, Trudeau was a political leader who inspired youth, who let us believe in the promise of something better, something positive. Of course there are also all sorts of personal defining moments; marriages, divorces, birth of children, their marriages, birth of grandchildren.
And here comes the segue to retirement. After a lifetime of working, of being limited by the necessities of life, I find myself in what could be a personally defining moment. Flying down yesterday I watched the movie Mama Mia on the plane (can you believe it, I actually had to pay to do that … what’s next?). Since I first saw the movie a few months ago I’ve almost worn out the sound-track on my iPod (if that’s possible, if it isn’t just allow that the comment reflects my age!) and one of my favorite songs has these words: “Standing calmly at the crossroads, no desire to run. There’s no hurry any more when all is said and done.” It is a time of crossroads; for new dreams and new goals.
Congratulations America! I humbly thank you, from my heart, and perhaps – if I may be so presumptuous – on behalf of the citizens of the world who, as Obama said last night, share your destiny.