two years later – still hoping.

Nov. 5, 2008

For two years we watched as things went from bad to worse to I-don’t-think-we-can-dig-a-hole-much-deeper-than-this. We listened to both sides blame each other for our country’s failures. We watched as the economy imploded and financial institutions crumbled.

For nearly two years we heard about how change was coming.  Change was needed. And change did come – and not always for the better. So we took our chances on a relative unknown to catalyze this transition. Overnight our country invested in hope. Overnight barriers were brought down. Overnight we suddenly have a new chance at a better future for us all.

But I can’t help but wonder: Now what? … I know that there is still much to do even before we can begin moving forward. But I am straining to be patient. I can’t stop scanning the headlines. I can’t sit still. I find myself in a familiar place once again – waiting – for what is to come.

Nov. 2, 2010

Re-reading those words I wrote almost two years ago is a bit eerie. Perhaps not because of what has happened since, but because of what is about to.

What has come is this: the bleeding has stopped. We are in a period of recovery. And for many, getting better isn’t happening fast enough. So folks are back to talking about how change is needed. Change is coming. They didn’t get what they were promised, and they are cashing in their ballots for a new deal.

Last night, after the Giants won the World Series I finished my beer, high-fived a stranger in a bar, and then went home to read up about some of the ballot measures I didn’t really understand. I found that most of the California ballot was pretty tame. Then again, this is not an election about changing everything – it’s about holding ground. Prop 23 is a perfect example of trying to salvage the incremental progress we have made.

I showed up to the polls this morning because I like standing in a room with a group of people who all believe enough in something to show up at 7am and write it down. No matter who your candidate is, what cause you are supporting – Election Day is about hope. It is the one day you either say something, or shut up. And then hope that something good will come out of the experience. Maybe not tomorrow. Or the next day. Or even two years later. But eventually.

Growing up, my mom always took us with her to vote. We would be hanging from her legs, peeking from behind a heavy curtain as she marked off her ballot. When we were older, she would disappear behind the curtain and then not tell us who she voted for. She just wanted us to know that voting was important to do, and that it is your business.

“Did you  vote yet,” a coworker asked me this afternoon.

I answered by pulling back my jacket and revealing the red sticker on my shirt.

“I wish I was more excited,” she said. “I’ll never forget 2008. I cried standing in line. A lady actually had a heart attack at my polling station. I wish I felt that way now. But I should vote. I’m going to go after work. I already called and reminded my sons.”

I smiled. Because not every election is about making history. Sometimes it’s just about showing up because you have a voice and should use it. Because you are one of the privileged few with a choice. Elections should not always be about needing sweeping changes, sometimes it’s about giving eventually the time to work.  Because there is still much to be done before we can move forward.

Obama tag cloud

obama-tagcloud_1243148c

I watched President Obama give his inauguration speech from a computer screen at work yesterday. Due to the high amount of Internet traffic, the streaming video paused nearly every seven seconds for a duration of about three seconds. Those frequent interruptions made it especially difficult to process his speech as a single unit, instead it read like  segmented sound bytes. I recall thinking that one word seemed to linger in each portion of pause: prosperity. I remember thinking it was a strange word to use during these economic times. I remember thinking I needed to listen to his speech again to understand the true weight of it.

Today I researched his speech and came across an interesting article in the Telegraph. The above tag cloud is Obama’s speech boiled down into the words he mentioned most – the bigger the word, the more times he repeated it. I found comfort in the words highlighted. This  form of data organization is not only pretty, but powerful.  From the words jumbled on the screen I pulled out those that stuck out most to me:

new nation
every people
less america today
must let time work now
whether world crisis
know greater things come

For the complete article, visit:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/barackobama/4299886/Barack-Obamas-inauguration-speech-as-a-tag-cloud.html

now what?

For nearly two years we endured all the presidential campaigning. For two years we watched as things went from bad to worse to I-don’t-think-we-can-dig-a-hole-much-deeper-than-this. We listened to both sides blame each other for our country’s failures. We watched as the economy imploded and financial institutions crumbled.

For nearly two years we heard about how change was coming. Change was needed. And change did come – and not always for the better. So we took our chances on a relative unknown to catalyze this transition. Overnight our country invested in hope. Overnight barriers were brought down. Overnight we suddenly have a new chance at a better future for us all.

But I can’t help but wonder: Now what?

I find myself antsy today. Just hours after last night’s historic win, I am revisiting photos from the celebrations, photos from the campaign trail, in an attempt to savor the moment. I know that around the country today people in headquarter offices will be removing signs and taking steps to shut down the respective campaigns. I know that there is still much to do even before we can begin moving forward.

But I am straining to be patient. I can’t stop scanning the headlines. I can’t sit still. I find myself in a familiar place once again – waiting – for what is to come.