Obama’s America; new hope for us all.

Normally I don’t post on Tuesdays (it’s become sort of a Monday and Thursday thing for me) but today … on this amazing day … how can I not share my thoughts with you?   Not since I was a youth watching JFK speak on Capitol Hill have I been this excited about an inauguration.

It’s early in the morning on January 20th and I wish I was in Washington.  Right now the words “oui, on peut” are filling my heart.  Yup, in all parts of the world and in many languages this is the message of the moment. 

On our flight home from California where we travelled on Nov 4th to be a part of this exciting, momentous transition to a new reality (there’s that word again) I started to think that there would be no reason for me – freshly retired at the time – not to go to Washington for the inauguration.  No reason at all … no job to keep me in Toronto, no deadlines to meet, no political restrictions (when you work for government there are ways in which you’re controlled that aren’t so nice).   And then I was reminded that I don’t do so well in crowds; I just don’t like to be in them and I start feeling short of breath when I feel trapped in a throng.  Don’t know where that all comes from, but that I don’t know the cause doesn’t mean that there isn’t a palpable effect.  With a January 19th “due date” for our soon-to-join-us grandchild it wasn’t a time I wanted to be so far away anyhow.  So I decided that it made more sense to stay home and watch it here … and maybe I’d even be in Ottawa helping my daughter with her new child (not yet born as of this posting date in the morning) .   Good reasons not to be there but still and all, watching TV and seeing the folks who are there in the midst of this I am a bit wistful about it.   Small sigh!

So, how will I celebrate this day?  

David and I actually began our partying last night by going out for an “Al Gore” dinner.  “What’s that?” you might be asking.  Well, it’s the result of a bet that David made with me a couple of years ago … putting his money on believing that Al Gore would enter the Presidential race.   We went to one of our favourite restaurants – Mildred’s Temple Kitchen (the reincarnation of what used to be the restaurant Mildred Pierce which has been the place that David and I have celebrated everything from birthdays to our own engagement; the food’s great, the space is fabulous – you can even choose to sit on the “kitchen stools” which overlook the prep area).  Over a feast of delights and some good wine we shared our excitement about the election outcome and our enthusiasm about what comes next. 

Today, my mother, her wonderful caregiver Ellen, and my son Motti are going to come over around 11 in the morning and we’ll watch the ceremony and the speech and then I’m going to serve them all a suitably fabulous lunch while we continue to watch the happenings in Washington.  It will be lovely.   Is this a missed opportunity for extreme experience?  Ah – that’s the thing … I don’t really like that particular extreme any more.  Remember, I just came back from Antarctica where I was blissful about spending my time in relative solitude;  just us and the penguins.  One of the side benefits I’m experiencing in retirement is that I have time to sit back and think about what I do really enjoy in life, and being in enormous crowds is no longer on my “fun” list … although I did take a couple of my kids to see Paul Simon in Central Park the summer of 1991.

There’s a sense of something new in the air, and for me – still in the midst of experiencing the newness of this retired life – it’s just one more thing to marvel about.  What a day!  I’ve spent so much of my life working for social justice; my doctoral thesis explored the limits put on gifted women and many of my publications and most of my academic work have been an exploration of what it will take to turn bigotry into something we study in a history class rather than experience in our neighbourhoods.  This is definitely a time of great change – change that we all need, change that will bring us together and enrich all of our lives.  

These words,  slightly adapted from the Obama campaign, sum up – for me – why this is such an incredible day.

Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk.

Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run.

Obama ran so we all can fly.”

So we all can fly.  Ah – what a call to action!  Where do you want to fly?  Where do I want to fly?  Key question as we move on in our lives.  For today, I’ll likely not fly much beyond the warmth of my own home … but tomorrow … tomorrow’s another day.  “For the first time” again and again.

What are you up to today?  Where will you fly tomorrow?


6 responses to “Obama’s America; new hope for us all.

  1. serendipity hopeful

    As a foreigner who wants good things to happen in any and all parts of the world, I wish Americans will work more in harmony with their president.


  2. Sylvia Bereskin

    I like the idea of adding our wishes for the day. As Daniel Quinn says in his book “Ishmael” (with a little paraphrasing); we know how to split atoms, how to send explorers to the moon, how to splice genes, but we don’t know how people ought to live. My wish for the day is that we do know how we ought to live; we just need the courage to start living that way.

  3. As someone who is also old enough to remember the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King, Jr., I am so amazed that we’ve reached this day in my lifetime. I hope that people will temper their expectations with being realistic about the enormity of the problems we face, and continue to participate in the process, even when everything doesn’t turn around in two months.

    • Sylvia Bereskin

      As I watched the inauguration unfold yesterday I became more and more amazed at what I was seeing. On lots of levels. I started to think of how wonderful it is that a country can have a transfer of power – even when there’s real anger in the air – that is so dignified, respectful, and peaceful. This is such a clear breaking with the ways of the past. I wasn’t wrong, it seems, in thinking that there would be a new reality after yesterday’s inauguration. I was also very impressed with how straightforward and honest a President he seemed to be; standing there talking with a glimpse of George W over Barack’s left shoulder only drew home more clearly, I thought, that it’s time to grow up beyond the self-indulgence of childhood. An important message to us all. Time to make peace with each other and with the earth. Amazing!

  4. Obama and Biden spent the day before inauguration VOLUNTEERING. Now isn’t that a breath of something hopeful?

    • Sylvia Bereskin

      Hopeful indeed. Made me feel like my wish for the day was unfolding. I wished for the wisdom to know how we ought to live and the courage to start living that way; I think that the Obamas, in the volunteering they did yesterday, showed that they knew what was right and how to do it. I’m smiling!

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