Thursday, August 28, 2008

Climbing mountains

The first time I thought about it, it was so scary I pushed it out of my mind.
When the thought returned, I decided to hold it and turn it around like a glowing orb of promise.
Let me back up for a minute: I've often been accused of thinking too deep, of picking stuff apart for deeper meaning to understand its source and my own enlightenment. Still, it drove some people crazy although my family and close friends appreciate me being the one who performs the thought autopsies on the events of the day.
That being said, the original thought was this: Sen. Obama's acceptance speech tonight coincides with another milestone speech given in what could be his future city of residence. But the real connection for me is not that speech, but the speech given the night before Martin Luther King Jr. died. The one where he talked about the mountaintop and looking over into the promised land.
"I may not get there with you," he said. "He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land," he said. "But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land."
Is Denver the mountaintop King looked over? Did he see this before any of us could dream of it?
The first time the word "mountaintop" rang in my ear before the convention, it sent a chill through me so I went and read the end of King's speech and there it was, to me a clear foretelling of tonight's momentous occasion.
If I'm right, if I grasped the significance of where we are and what will happen, maybe I feel the same sense of urgency Muhammad Ali felt when he got his wife to pull strings to get him a seat at the convention. This is something not to miss, to be present for not for the pageantry, not for the politics, but for the inhalation of the scent of liberty, of closing your eyes and just being in the moment and where you are at that moment and what it says about the time in which you're living. The life you're living, for that matter, and whether you're deserving of a chance to change your life and step in a new direction on your own mountaintop.
Barack Obama and Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali all stepped away from the conveyor belt of normalcy and created their own "new way of walking" into their future. When will you begin your new walk, create your new history? I'm plotting my new map now although I don't know where I want to go or where He wants me to be but I know my mountaintop's out there waiting for my conquering flag....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who am I? Why am I here?

In the middle of a recent job interview, I suddenly felt like the late Adm. James Stockdale. At his only debate as a vice-presidential candidate, he asked the questions above.
While I carefully dissected why I wanted this job and explain the answer in a detached but intellectual manner to my interviewers, it occurred to me that I had lost my way... again.
Feeling 11 years ago that journalism was my true calling, I dove headfirst on the fast track to becoming a prolific writer. You gotta understand, I started this new chapter of my life at the age of 44. From that cloud, I tried to think and negotiate ways of getting to a successful point in my life as quickly as possible because 1) I felt older just looking around my classroom before I graduated in 1992 and 2) the gnawing reminder that my mother worried herself into an early grave at the age of 56. I wanted to use God's gift of writing to reach and change the lives of as many people as I could before my late restart and family history of heart disease caught up with me. So I pushed and I moved to two more states in my quest to live my dream of what I thought becoming a good journalist meant.
When the career rug was pulled from under me last February, I didn't realize that I was chasing the dream so hard I lost parts of me in the process. Eventually, the person I saw in the mirror was the same person who at one time signed her checks "Mrs. Kenneth Rhone" instead of the name my parents gave me. I lost my identity trying to find a new one.
Killer part is I like me. I didn't try to lose who I was to become the person I thought I wanted to be, the person they wanted me to be. I got caught up in personal rejection instead of professional expediency as they told me I wasn't good enough to be who I thought I was.
At one point, I found myself crying in front of a grocery store employment kiosk because I thought I needed to just find a job, any job, to prove my worth. To have somebody say, yes, we want you.
But that's not who I am. I am loved. God loves me, regardless of my skills or my potential. But I stopped loving myself because of the difficulty of rejection in this whole job finding process.
But as I sat across from three smiling people who genuinely seemed interested in me and my life, I had the epiphany that it wasn't their approval I was seeking (except the job. The job is killer and I'd love to wrap myself in it). I needed to find a way to validate myself so I talked about things that mattered to me, how I really saw my potential and my history of helping others and it occurred to me that that's what was missing. I stopped helping other people. I lived for the feeling of seeing myself doing good in the world and you can't give hugs at a pity party.
Service in God's name. I fired myself from that job and the vacancy was still open. I could recapture that spirit of giving of myself, my thoughts, my skills, my empathy, me, and get back to the business of spreading God's love and His message of doing for others again.
Okay, God. I'm back. Ma, your advice was right: there is nobody better than me.
I'm ready to restart the journey now, Lord. To live off the nectar of serving others gave me more pleasure than any cut of prime rib (and I loves me some prime rib) and I want that taste back on the tongue of my spirit.
I'm ready to start smiling again....

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Don't blink

I'm trying not to blink at John McCain's run for the White House because I think I've already missed something. I missed the explanations on how he's a war hero and that he has the experience to lead a country.
War hero? He got shot down and spent years as a captive. He didn't risk his life, didn't save anybody's life. He even admitted in his own book that he was close to suicide because of his personal failures.
Experience? He has no business experience. Never ran a corporation. Did some reaching across the aisle but talking for the sake of talking is not leadership, it's ass kissing.
Now he's acting like the crusty old man down the street that makes fun of the kids and takes their kickball in the house when it comes over his fence.
The edgy old guy or the new black guy: who you gonna invite to the dance?