Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Living in Reverse

I heart Charlie Rose. Some of the most inspiring conversations I've heard have come from the desk of Mr. Rose. I got to know Mr. Rose by accident. My mother was out garage sale shopping and brought back home a small, old wooden television set. It had all these interesting buttons and knobs and looked like something Archie Bunker would probably own, only that it was in color. The new television found a home in my room upstairs. We didn't get that many channels, but one of the few we had was Public Broadcasting Atlanta. Charlie came on at midnight and the first Charlie Rose Show I saw intrigued me. I loved his conversational style and for a long time I had a crush on Mr. Rose. I've always looked to Charlie as I fondly call him for inspiration and tonight was one of those nights.

I had just finished watching what I considered one of the best sports matches in all of history; Gentlemen's Final at Wimbledon 2008 between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. It was the longest final in men's tennis. I was watching the match thinking about drive and dreams. Then I remembered an incident that happened last year. I was still living in Denver at the time and Barack Obama came to visit. He had only announced his decision to run for office a few weeks before and I was ecstatic when I heard he would be in town. To begin with, I shouldn't have been in Denver. It was spring break and I should have been back home but for the fact that plane ticket prices were sky high that time of the year. So there I was stuck in Denver when I got the invite.

I made sure I got to the venue early. I waited for so long to get into the hall that held a few hundred people. Once inside, I heard Barack speak about his plans for America and his vision of change. After he was done speaking he stayed for a while to shake hands with his supporters. Some lady behind me kept hounding me to shake his hand. I wanted to so badly but I was miles away from him. Long story short, I didn't get to shake his hand in the hall. I was pissed. I was really pissed. I had come with the intent of talking to him. I wanted to so badly. So, I sat down in a chair and watched the hall empty out. I was so angry I didn't push my way to the front of the crowd. Finally there were only a handful of people in the hall and my sulking was not helping my cause. The only bright moment in all my misery was when some lady admired my shoes. At least I thought, it wasn't all in vain.

When I realized that I wasn't going to meet Barack, I decided to head home. When I got out I noticed a small crowd gathering at the steps because supposedly, Barack was coming down to address them. I hung there for a while but then he never came. I then decided it was all a waste and started heading for my car. I planned to stop by Ben and Jerry's, at least I would be consoled there. On my way to the car I saw a black van in the alley. There was a small crowd as Barack was supposed to be getting into the car to perhaps head over to the airport. I still wanted to meet him so I hung around. As soon as I spotted him, I called him by his first name and he stopped and looked up. I broke past security and walked up to him to talk just like I knew him. I told him I had applied for an internship the previous year and let him know I supported his decision to run for office. However, what I really wanted to tell him was I wanted to work for his campaign. I wanted to hound him there and convince him to hire me but I never did.

It's been a while since that Sunday in March, but I haven't forgotten or forgiven myself for what I considered a missed opportunity. It is often said that in life we regret the things we did not do more than those we did. I wish I had asked him but I did not. Sometimes, I console myself by thinking he might have turned me down, but what if he did not? I have let the memory of that day haunt me more than should be legally allowed and tonight was another one of those days. Then I came upstairs to get over my misery and I turned on the television. It's a totally different house and television set, but I am still quite passionate about Public Broadcasting. First Tavis Smiley came on with Seal as his guest. They talked about everything and yes, about Barack Obama. Then Charlie came up next. His second guest was the famous editor behind several great books and memoirs including Bill Clinton's; Robert Gottlieb. Mr. Gottlieb said something that resonated with me tonight; "don't live in self reproach."

He made this remark when Charlie asked if he had any regrets. His view on life was that if you feel you've made a difference then self reproach should not be your companion. I am not as advanced in age as Mr. Gottlieb so I cannot evaluate the change or difference I've made. I am quite hard on myself and I'm sometimes not aware of my accomplishment so I allow myself to wallow in self reproach if only momentarily. I am not quite sure where I am going with this post but I remember telling my career counsellor that more than anything else I wanted to live a life with no regrets at the end of the day. So, for the things I haven't done there's so much I have. For the mountains I haven't climbed there are hills I have overcome. For the lands I have not seen there are others I have and I am truly thankful. It's the holiday season and Christmas inspires hope for hope dispels shame. I do not know why I did not engage Obama in what might have been the opportunity of a life time but opportunity only knocks once for those who think it does.

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