In these crazy times, our “What’s Next” advisor Cindy provides us with a reminder …
I walked by a New York odelisque today: a man who appeared to be lounging across a sidewalk grate on a midtown Manhattan cross street. He had blanketed himself against the cold in newspaper and positioned himself to take advantage of some heat rising from the subway line below. Lying on his side, propped up on one elbow, he casually flipped through the pages of a New York Post with his other hand.
He was probably homeless, certainly dressed the part. Yet the way he flipped and perused the pages of that paper suggested someone who had done the same at his desk or on a commuter train not so long ago, perhaps looking for the latest box scores or stock quotes. I was struck by his apparent comfort with his place in the world.
A homeless guy in Manhattan is not in and of itself a novel scene. But my reaction to him was. With tens of thousands of people being laid off, the S&P 500 stock index hitting a new 11-year low, and the hope of change hanging heavy but unrealized in the air as we await inauguration day, I seriously thought, “This could be me. This could be any of us.”
Somehow this thought did not trouble me. On the contrary, it was good to feel humbled. To remind myself how fortunate I am. Not to pay lip service but, in that moment, to genuinely understand that family and love and health matter most.
These are crazy times. The status quo is no longer. Economic crisis undermines our sense of security, forcing us to ask “what is valuable and how shall we measure it?” Simultaneously and not coincidentally, Barack Obama is elected President with a vision for change “of the people, by the people.” He responds to our longing for community, our desire to do the right thing. He taps into our need to reconnect with our basic humanity.
We have been feeling morally and communally bankrupt and didn’t even know it until, quite literally, corporations and banks starting failing around us and our President Elect gave voice to our individual and collective longing for change. A nation watched itself in Grant Park on the night of November 4th – young and old, black and white, tearful and hopeful – welcoming the leader who has re-instilled in us a sense of responsibility for our own future.
I find myself breathing deeper these days. I appreciate that breathing deep is a luxury that I could not afford were I less fortunate, living hand to mouth like so many in our country. Maybe part of what’s next for me is doing something to correct this inequality. Against the backdrop of these historic times, I am inspired to be part of the change for myself, for my family’s legacy, for all of us.
“Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today” … President-Elect Barack Obama
Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving,