Friday, April 10, 2009

Barack Obama

Every Easter we plant our spring bulbs. This Good Friday Anne’s put in our hyacinths. It always amazes me that out of these scruffy things such beautiful shapes, colours and scents emerge.

Kathrine and Roger gave us Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father for Christmas.
Anne read it straight away and raved about it. To my shame I’ve just got round to picking it up and I’m engrossed. Bob Dylan said it’s a book that makes you feel and think at the same time. It does. He transports you to Hawaii, Jakarta and Kenya with ease and grace.

A few excerpts.

‘His [Gramps] was an American character, one typical of men of his generation, men who embraced the notion of freedom and individualism and the open road without always knowing its price, and whose enthusiasms could as easily lead to the cowardice of McCarthyism as to the heroics of World War 11. Men who were both dangerous and promising precisely because of their fundamental innocence; men prone, in the end, to disappointment.’

‘The air in the office [USA Embassy in Jakarta] was cool and dry, like the air of mountain peaks: the pure and heady breeze of privilege.’

‘We didn’t go to the beach or on hikes together anymore; at night Gramps watched television while Toot sat in her room reading murder mysteries. They principal excitement now came from new drapes or a stand-alone freezer. It was as if they had bypassed the satisfactions that should come with middle age, the converging of maturity with time left, energy with means, a recognition of accomplishment that frees the spirit. At some point in my absence, they had decided to cut their losses and settle for hanging on. They saw no destinations to hope for.’

'It had taken a couple of years before I saw how fates were bsginning to play thyemselves out, the difference that colour and money made after all, in who survived, how soft or hard the landing when you finally fell. Of course, either way, you needed some luck.'

When Obama was elected President I felt concern that expectation could outrun delivery. The financial crisis deepened that feeling. But reading this book does give me a hope. Here is a humane man with great depth. Can his people go with him. My curiosity about that question gives me a desire to live long enough to see the shape of the answer. It's like my hope to see the hyacinths in the spring.

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