Monday, January 21, 2013

Four More Years of the Obamas

President Obama took the oath of office for the fourth time before a crowd significantly smaller than that at the first inauguration in 2009. The theme of his speech it seemed was equality for all Americans. By far, the most poignant moment of all was Obama stopping as he departed the platform to take one last look at the crowd saying "I'm going to take a look one more time...I'll never see this again." Very evocative words.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Catfish, 787s, Armstrong, or Happy New Year!

What a week it's been! The "witch hunt" that began years ago with allegations of doping ended with Lance Armstrong confessing about his use of performance enhancing substances in several of his cycling competitions in a sit down interview with Mama Oprah herself. So, maybe it wasn't a witch hunt after all. Former cable television executive turned former mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin was indicted on 21 counts of bribery, Boeing 787s were grounded across the globe for faulty lithium batteries that were potential fire hazards, several foreigners were taken hostage in Algeria owing to the intervention of the French in the crisis in northern Mali, Ben Affleck won the Gold Globe Award for Best Director for his movie "Argo" despite being snubbed by the Academy, Ann Landers the advice columnist for "Dear Abby" passed away, I began the first week of my last semester in law school, I returned back to my clerkship at Halliburton, and finally Manti Te'o and Catfish were reintroduced as household names in a sick and bewildering twist. If this week is any indication of what lies ahead in the month of January or if it forebodes the rest of the year, then it will be an interesting and adventure filled year.

For those reading this, making it into the new year was a feat in itself, a defiance of the Mayan prediction of the end of the world. But getting past the Mayans, 2012 was an interesting year for me for many reasons. It was a sort of coming of age and one of those years where I can say I had so many experiences that shaped and are still shaping me into the woman that I am becoming. 2012 was a year filled with so many experiences, unanswered questions, bumpy rides and hot air balloon highs.

Approaching the new year, I had to change my resolve, look through a different lens. I did not make resolutions, I have not made resolutions in years, rather I set goals. I covered a page with about 39 of those and my list is still growing. I made some lofty goals and I plan to check periodically to see how I'm doing, see if those goals needs to be adjusted and of course I have my red pen handy to cross off goals once they are accomplished. As with years in the past, I always pick out a scripture as a guide for the year, and as 2012 drew to a close, I kept on running into the Proverbs 17:22, "a merry heart doeth good like medicine." It is a scripture I plan to keep close as a reminder to be merry, joyful, and cheerful all year long. King Solomon may not have made good choices with his lifestyle, but the proverbs he was inspired to write still hold true today if adhered to.

So, I am excited about the new year and although my post might seem a little late, there couldn't be a better time than today to publish it. It has not only been an eventful week, but the weekend and the week ahead will be even more climatic with the second inauguration of President Barack Obama following on the heels of Martin Luther King Jr. day. While the new slogan for the Obama campaign and administration may be "forward," the name Obama and the four letter word "hope" will always be synonymous. Today driving to work, I listened two clergy men speak about hope on NPR and I ended my day reading a poem by Emily Dickinson, titled, "Hope is the thing with feathers." While I don't have the poem memorized yet, I feel as though I could add my own words and give the word hope meaning just drawing from the imagery and symbolism of feathers.

But importantly, today, my brother sent me a forwarded email about change, moving on, and leaving. He and I always have the deepest and most enriching conversations, so it's no surprise the profundity of the email's content. The letter, the reflections of an artist struck such a strong chord with me. I read it parked in my car and then read it again curled up in bed. Certainly, there are changes I need to make because anything that doesn't grow dies and sometimes we just have to leave certain things to make room for the future and what it holds. While the letter was rather lengthy, I have included some excerpts from it below and hope it speaks to someone reading it as it did me.

I want to keep my soul fertile for the changes, so things keep getting born in me, so things keep dying when it time for things to die. I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not to read the same page recurrently.

Only the good stories have the characters different at the end than they were at the beginning. And the closest things I can liken life to is as book, the way it stretches out on paper, page after page, as if to trick the mind into thinking it isn't all happening at once.

Here is something I found to be true: you don't start processing death until you turn thirty. I live in visions, for instance, and they are cast out some fifty years, and just now, just last year I realized my visions were cast too far, they were out beyond my life span. It frightened me to think of it, that I passed up an early marriage or children to write these silly books, that I bought the lie that the academic life had to be separate from relational experience, as though God only wanted us to learn cognitive ideas, as if the heart of a man were only created to resonate with movies. No, life cannot be understood flat on a page. It has to be lived; a person has to get out of his head, has to fall in love, has to memorize poems, has to jump off bridges into rivers, has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath:

Photo credit, Steve Martin by Norman Seeff, 1978.