Sunday, January 25, 2009

Day length

I realized yesterday that I've been composing posts in my head so often lately that I somehow let myself think that I've posted those thoughts when I haven't. A little catching up, then.

I'm still processing the Inauguration. We watched it at school, in a big room with about 135 kids -- some significant majority of whom were only vaguely aware of what was happening. At school, we felt it was important for all the children to have the experience in whatever way they could. Sometimes, that made it a little hard; lots of distraction and noise made it challenging to focus. But overall it was impossible for me, anyway, not to have the sense of the impact this president will have on the lives of these children. What amazes me about Obama is the incredible ability he has to be at the same time in charge, in control, and powerful while still having the kind of humility and grace to seem to wonder what all the fuss is about -- that he can have the experience of the Inauguration in a sense the same way we're having it; in awe, and hopeful, and amazed. To be in the midst of this pageant that's all about him, and yet not to let it be all about him. That takes an astonishingly centered and calm sense of self that few politicians seem to have.
We recently watched Oliver!, the 1968 musical adaptation of Oliver Twist. Dean loved it, as I knew he would, and wants me to read the original to him. I was part of a theater group when I was just a little older than Dean is now, and our only production (but in many incarnations) was Oliver! At various times I played either Oliver or Artful Dodger, and therefore knew all the songs (which I refrained from singing throughout the movie). I think Dean is just the right age -- 10 -- to explore the questions about good and bad and about the mix that's within real people. We talked about whether Dickens wanted us to think the workhouse boys had it better (living within the "legal" system administered by the government) or Fagin's band of pick-pocketing boys, and about the difference between Fagin, and Bumble, and Bill.

Strangely, our theater group once performed Oliver! at...an orphanage. Angel Guardian Orphanage was quite near where I grew up and it was a huge place. I very clearly remember the girls' dormitory where we changed costumes and my conversation with one of the girls there. I can't imagine how any group of adults thought that it was a good fit -- for us to perform a story about the horrors of being an orphan that ends with the kind of impossible fairytale ending that you wouldn't want an orphan to fixate on. Can I hope that we didn't make much of an impression on the residents?

How far away is economic recovery, do you think? Is this thing that we're perched on the edge of still just the upper edge of the pit, or are we near bottom and close to the climb back up? Living simpler lives is magnificent as long as there are still ways for people to earn a living. Ken said he thought malls might disappear as the result of the retail collapse and I disagreed -- they'll change, and the stores and what we buy will change, but the experience of getting out of the house, of being social and being entertained by shopping, won't go away (just in the way that home video capability didn't kill movie theaters). I don't think that, as an adult, I've ever wished this much that I could know where we'd be in a year.

And I noticed just this very morning that sunrise is earlier.

1 comment:

Linda said...

I know what you mean about Obama, I think this is the first time ever that Australians have really cared about a USA election and felt such a fondness and hope towards a President!!!