Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ch-Ch-Ch- Changes

The air feels different today. Cleaner. Filled with hope and promise. It's official now. Barack Obama has been inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States and we are all off on a new adventure.

I am often struck by why I chose this particular moment in time to venture on a personal journey of reinvention. My decision came long before the economy really tanked and long before Barack Obama was elected. But here I am reinventing myself while the country does the same.

My life has always had a soundtrack. Sometimes a song takes me back to a moment in my past and sometimes the button of the jukebox in my head is hit to describe how a moment feels.

The past few days somebody pressed Changes. Bowie, originally released in 1972 as a 45 off the album Hunky Dory, back when there were such things as a 45rpm record.

The first time I heard the song I was (yes, I admit it) an about to be graduated high school senior stepping into my future. There is something about not just the lyrics of Changes, but the melody that still evokes in me that giddiness of anticipation mixed with promise and uneasiness about the what’s next that I had when it first came out.

As the lyrics have been playing over and over in my head the last few days, I feel the same joy. Once again I am standing in the vortex of change. I have left the perceived safety of a corporate job for the world of the entrepreneur. And at precisely the same time, I find myself in an even bigger swirl as the country gets a new leader and a fresh direction.

Change means stretching into untested places, beyond our comfort zone. When you are in the dream of the change you think about the aches that go along with moving these new muscles and you wince. Sometimes that is exactly what stops you from moving forward. It’s easier sometimes to just let things be.

When people ask me why I am choosing this route now, my answer is I didn’t feel I had a choice. When faced with my options this was the only one that allowed me to breathe freely.

I think that is also true for our country now and that is evident in the election of Obama. There really wasn’t any other choice if we indeed wanted to really change the way things have been.

I watched the swearing in yesterday in a crowded restaurant with friends. I overhead someone whispering at the beginning of his address for him to get past his comments on the current state of affairs and inspire us. I winced.

For me, his acknowledgment of the hard reality of the times inspires me more than if he did not. There are no quick fixes here. Without recognizing where we are, we cannot get to another place. President Obama is clear that there will be strain ahead and that we have responsibilities to ourselves and to each other. He knows of the roller coaster ride change is about, what I believe Bowie meant when he wrote, "Turn and Face the Strain." Obama gets it.

Ch-ch-ch-changes. Sometimes it is hard to actually say the word. But when the word is spoken and the vision is clear, the air indeed starts to change and it is easier to breathe.

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