Words. Sights. Thoughts. Tears. Smiles…..
I never realized that Barack Obama was the 44th President of the United States until his name flashed across the TV screen election night predicting his fate. 44. Numbers have their ulterior meanings. I am 44. And now my life has transferred its course in a major direction that I’ve never known before then. So, in a way, I feel akin to this white African American, hard working, Ivy League, home grown, midwestern, dreamer, who made his dream come true.
I think back on my deluded quote to my great aunt as a young teenager: “You know Aunt Mill, I’m going to go to Harvard after high school.” This didn’t happened for I squandered chances to prevail in that opportunity. Unbeknownst to me, my subconscious elected another path, one which I presumed was apathy, atrophy, or laziness. Quite justified, but I was subtly battling my own fight, of identity. Who was I? What was my true pursuits with my one chance, bite at the apple.
Isolated incidents transpired. I had resembled a popular candidate for public office as an adult. “You should run for Mayor of your town.” Many friends had decried. And one of my law school cronies confirmed, “You have that down to earth quality that endears itself to getting people of different philosophies to talk and separate the divide, much like our President….” It was all very flattering. And then I recalled in my second career. My teaching associate commented about my classroom skills with students in that diverse co-educational system. “You’re a white black man.” This observation coming from a natural born Nigerian. Too garbled and jumbled to see clearly until 44.
It was in this courageous year that as I wrote my prose, I saw my handwriting change from one similar in style to my brother’s scrawl and more attune with my old high school English professor’s hand. At that moment, I knew I had come out, a debutante, from the chains of uncertainty to a state of freshness of perspective I had not appreciated. So like President-Elect Obama, I too ran aground to find my dream illuminated on this island of rampant fear, loss and exuberant hate. I became into my own from having sought counsel within my heart, mainly, but also from reading the works and biographies of the role models of eras long gone: Washington Irving, William Faulkner, James Joyce, James Baldwin, Robbie Burns, among a million of others, who were innovators of the written word, sentence, phrase and rhyming lyric. Like the rebels who were fed up with an archaic structure, so too am I looking for a resurrected template of expression artistically and passionately.
And for me it falls in many wondrous genres, to expound like a preacher, a minister, a mentor of human soul-ology. And as for Barack, a leader, a Solomon, an owl of insightful guidance to offer to a tattered and torn red, white and blue flag once again. In this guise, as his distant cousin, relative, I chose to jump in the same fish bowl as he and desire to expand the glass boundaries and horizons of what exists.
Like the coppery speckles of crisp shiny leaves fallen from a fruitful now bare October tree, I revel in the bedazzled spectacle of sun glimmering off these dead coins of hope and believe in a new dawn arising, invigorated. For me at age 44, I must prepare for this 44th electoral age, a remarkably incredible age, for me and my President.