Wednesday, November 5, 2008

About when the world changes

Yesterday, election day, I turned 53 years old.

The entire world had been counting down to my birthday for over a year. Consequently, I embraced the day, rather than practice the denial I've practiced of late. Why fight it?

Because it became evident early this year that one way or another, history would be written this day. Somebody, by virture of their gender or the color of their skin, would make history on a day that is usually devoted to me, plain white female, getting older.

But who knew, who KNEW, just what kind of a day this ordinary birthday of mine would be?

In the 53 years I've now had, I can count three times when I was aware of the world changing around me. Days that maybe started just like always, but ended as touchstones for generations.

In 1963, when I had just turned 8, it was the assasination of President Kennedy. So much sadness for a second grader to understand. What a changed world that day left behind--something intangible lost that I think we still mourn for. And I'll never forget that second-grade classroom--we all remember "where we were" that day.

In 2001, a beautiful late summer day turned into the tragedy of 9/11--the world gasped, trembled, crumbled and is only just now being rebuilt. We Americans will never feel as untouchable as we did before that day.

Two horrible events when time stood still--surely enough for any lifetime.

But I woke up thinkin' that I now had to add to my list of world-changing, life-defining, time-stopping days.

My 53rd birthday, November 4, 2008. Just another birthday for me. But for our country, for the world, when Barack Obama walked out on the stage in Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois, to the cheers of a million people around him, as the new president-elect of the United States of America, a black man with a strange name and a cool demeanor but a warm smile, who dared to tell a cynical nation, yes we can be something diferent --

Time stood still; the world shifted its course a little--for a second, I was a new 8-year-old who believed that anything could happen, something good.

Maybe we could change the world.

If I could reach the stars I'd pull one down for you
Shine it on my heart so you could see the truth
That this love I have inside is everything it seems
But for now I find it's only in my dreams

That I can change the world
I would be the sunlight in your universe
You will think my love was really something good
Baby if I could change the world

If I could be king even for a day
I'd take you as my queen I'd have it no other way
And our love will rule in this kingdom we have made
Till then I'd be a fool wishin' for the day

That I can change the world
I would be the sunlight in your universe
You will think my love was really something good
Baby if I could change the world
Baby if I could change the world

That I can change the world
I would be the sunlight in your universe
You will think my love was really something good
Baby if I could change the world

--Eric Clapton

3 comments:

Joe said...

What a TERRIFIC post!

And happy (albeit belated) birthday wishes!

Julianne said...

Yes, for sure. And have you heard Babyface do this as a duet? It makes me cry.

Sheila said...

Nice Post!!