Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Change of Heart

I am sure I'm the last American to admit she doesn't like change.

Change with the capital "C" is our word of the day today. My local radio station was running a contest to see how many times the new President would say "change" during his inaugural address. I didn't count, but I did listen.

We're all looking for Change, I am made to understand. The list of Changes we're looking for is astounding, and by that I mean lengthy and incredible. In 100 days or fewer, we want Change in our corporately dismal financial condition; Change in our nation's involvement in wars and world peacekeeping; Change in our (let's face it) largely failing education system; Change in the way we access and pay for health care; Change in... Change.

I have now heard the rhetoric about this Change tsunami ad nauseum and it has forced me out of my staunchly apolitical cave.

Hating that. I'm comfortable in the cave, relatively speaking. I have my frugal thoughts and some equally tightwad household budgetary concerns. I can overspend punctuation marks and italicized fonts without offending anyone (for the most part, my old editors aren't emailing me in horrors) and my bank account is hardly affected. I know the Blogher ad to the right might lead you to think otherwise, but no one cares what I think about my (genius) children and my (blissfully busy but basically uneventful) life. At least not enough to pay for it in more than the occasional latte money.

But now I've gone and done it.

I hate Change. Heck, I don't even like change of the lower-case variety. Neither do you -- do you? Let's make a list: change a messy diaper, change a tire, change jobs, change schools, change directions without signalling and pay a lot more than pocket change for the ticket.

I want to be perfectly clear. I don't want any Change. I want to sit in the corner and read. I want to stay here in my Suburban, keying in my thoughts on grocery shopping while my girls are in computer class. I want to stay in my 30s for pretty much forever. I want to stay in my community unless I travel for fun and I never want to get out of that comfort zone.

Ever. I will, though. Despite my wants and whinings, the world will continue to change and Change around me. I can be part of it or I can pack a lunch and watch. Probably I'll join in because I'm mouthy and energetic like that. Plus it allows me to complain about the outcome. (Not blogwise. Don't worry, this will probably be the closest to politics I'll ever get, blogwise.)

Facing change is hard for me. Effecting change, knowing how much I like that cave of comfort, is harder.

How much harder do you think it is for President Barack Obama and his beautiful family right this minute? Change houses, change jobs, change schools, Change the world.

No pressure.

As I listened to the inauguration on my radio today I was not even an observer. I relied on the observations of the commentators and those they interviewed. I relied on the airwaves to move the new President's voice across the nation to me. I relied on my imagination to fill in the gaps.

It must have been something to be there. I understand it was bitter cold but the crush of people must have done something to warm up the atmosphere (I am not going there with the global warming joke. Sue would be proud.). I heard one commentator say there were overtones of arrogance; I heard many more people say they wished their parents or grandparents could have lived to see this day. This day of Change.

Change is like that. We're uncomfortable with it in its gestation but we marvel at its fruition. Decades of strife over race aren't erased by today's inauguration, but they are eased. The struggle is validated. The Change is worth the journey.

So, to me, the next 100 days or the next four years don't sound so encouraging. I am eager to see the process begin and happy to see our nation galvanized to action, but I feel oddly reserved about the work ahead (and it's obviously not my work to do). This Change journey will be full of stress and strife. The end results -- the changes that result from the hard work and the sleepless nights and the mighty minds working at conference table negotiations -- are the building blocks for the history we seek to see.

Maybe that's why so many of us are optimistic and glad today. Because we get to party for a minute. We are acknowledging the hard work of generations. I'm not one to say the election has been all about race, but I am proud of us as a nation for moving past the question of whether we can elect a Black man to the Presidency. We can. We did. We Changed.

I don't like change much, I started to say. I'm probably the last person in America to work this out in my mind. Change is not always comfortable. I may be borrowing trouble to say that I perceive that the changes we will have to walk through as a nation and a world will not be comfortable. It certainly won't be as relaxing as sitting in the corner with a good novel. I don't like change; I hate change; I change my mind and I see its necessity.

So probably this all adds up to laziness on my part. I bask in the reflected glory of the Change our preceding generations have brought to pass and yet I harbor trepidation about the possible turmoil and unrest that may result from pushing for further change.

I don't like change much. Except when I love it.


Misty said...

very well said... suffice it to say, the next months will be awkward, uncomfortable, frightening and hopefully full of some hope.

Sue said...

This was such a wonderful post. I agree that Obama has a tremendous task ahead of him. It will be extremely difficult - almost impossible - for him to live up to the expectations people have. The President has power, but he can't change what's happened in the housing market. He can't change everything right away. I hope that people will be patient and realistic as things play out.

Still, it's wonderful to see so many people feeling so hopeful.

Katie said...

Wow I feel so pressured following up Sue's comment.


So, this ranks up there among your best posts! Friend, this was very well said.

stephanie (bad mom) said...

I enjoyed that ride on your train of thought. I'm inclined to say I don't like change (and Change) either, though as a teacher I feel required to promote it, and I, too, eventually find the value in it. Usually.

Thanks for visiting me :D