Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What Obama Time means to me

I have been struggling with the appropriate means to express what I feel about Obama’s ascension to the presidency. It’s something that has been on my mind since November, more so in the last few days. And I think that after extensive reflection my malaise is a result of two factors:

First, I’m brought back to the days after 9/11. Like many Americans I felt both helpless and motivated by the tragedy. I wanted to do something, I wanted to serve my country, probably for the first time in my life. Unfortunately, short of joining up with the Army, there just wasn’t that much that I could do. And, with the Bush administration, that feeling of service got drained away with each subsequent misstep and the eventual prosecution of his radical neo-con agenda.

But it is important to note that my post 9/11 reaction was a strong motivation if not deciding factor in my decision to get an MA in International Relations instead of going to law school. (For the record, prior to 9/11, I had a general feeling that I would go to law school, I took the LSAT, and considered my options.) Frustrated by what I saw as extremely high entry barriers in DC (gotta know the right people to get anywhere, and it simply isn´t possible to take a pay nothing job or internship when you have student loans) I concluded that higher education would serve me better than continued toil. Plus, studying in London was something I had always wanted to do and sounded like a pretty good idea (which it undoubtedly was).

So I packed up and shipped out and reestablished myself abroad, got a master’s degree, mixed with the world, met someone special, and eventually decided to move to Colombia. That also seemed like a good move for a variety of reasons both professional and personal. But I can’t say I was ever excited about the prospect of working in Colombia. Really, I was never particularly interested in Latin America and although that has changed to some extent, I still feel somewhat blocked by language and culture and, to be totally honest, disinterest in the microcosm of the developing world.

The second conclusion is directly related to the first. Now that Obama is running things I feel an intense desire to return to the US and get to work at maturing our nation. I really got what Obama said yesterday when he mentioned that we were a young nation. It resonated with me. As a young nation we responded to challenge like an adolescent would, with overreaction, frustration, and violence and, importantly, we can do better.

I now find myself living in a wonderful country, a country I truly enjoy in my leisure time, but also a country which simply can not offer me what I need professionally. I need to go back. I need to find my way to contribute to the development of my nation. And as much as I respect those that dedicate themselves to the development of poorer, needier nations, that’s not the path for me. I can see that now, more clearly than ever.

This, of course, complicates things. We are not ready to leave and I have nothing to go to. I have ideas, hopes, and dreams of things that I want to do. But I can’t very well pay the bills on hopes and dreams alone and soon, I’m guessing, the bills will get bigger as two will become three. Nor can I very well justify sitting around the house writing, reading, or whatever without specific direction.

I should add that this is a particularly more relevant and pressing concern as my job situation has gone from bad to worse. An explanation will have to follow in a separate post but it’s sufficient to say for now that not only am I not getting paid with any frequency, I’m also not really doing anything that would help further my professional development.

So, here I sit, on Day 1 of Obama’s presidency, inspired by his example, encouraged by possibility, overflowing with ideas. I am doing my best to access these emotions appropriately while I slog through the day-to-day of part time work and job searching. And I am hopeful that my efforts will not be in vain. If there is a final message that I take from Obama it’s this: with hard work, all things are possible.



Blogger Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm said...

How long have you been in Colombia? Three years? How does your wife feel about moving north? Sorry, I'm getting too personal. I'm inspired by Obama, too, but I haven't found a way to articulate it yet.

9:23 PM  

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