By: Zakia Carpenter
For a couple weeks I’ve been thinking about history and the present with respect to utilizing time, as if time were something that could be braided, woven, folded, or unraveled like colorful fabric. Obama has brought me back to this idea that we as individuals interact with elements which seem so much larger and grander than us. He reminds me that nothing exists in isolation, that everything leaves its mark on everything else. Even, perhaps especially, time does not go unscathed.
Reminded through Grace Lee Boggs’ autobiography and Dr. King’s idea that there is an invisible book recording our vigilence and neglect, I have to wonder to what extent we can utilize our time. And what does it mean to say that Obama is the man for this time? Does this mean that he understands the maneuverability of the present; can he present now in such a way that the world reforms anew?
I’m still lingering on time’s malleable qualities because I’ve always thought of time as something too complex and vast to be affected by anything other than stars. And I have barely mastered the idea of seizing time, the closest I’ve gotten was getting something turned in by the deadline. But in this stage of my life I’m learning “the fierce urgency of now” and why Dr. King simply could not wait. Obama has tapped into the energy and power that comes from a syzygy of time, leadership, and ideas. And when I think about this I begin to understand why this period is so exciting.
If a key element in societal evolution is the dissemination of the perfect idea at its appropriate time with the right leadership, then Obama has harnessed the transformative power necessary for a movement. We’re talking enough conducted energy to light up the country and possibly the world. Watching and learning about what he’s doing is beginning to influence the nature of my own movement activism. As a young person I have often believed that I had my whole life to stand up for something and dedicate myself to a particular cause. But now I know that I must be ever mindful of what kind of action a particular period in time calls for and that I don’t have an unlimited time to act.
I’m beginning to realize that learning to use my time is like learning how to swim. Water, like time, is a powerful force. Whenever fear hit during my first month of learning how to swim, I would fight against the water and get sucked under. But once I experienced swimming as a partnership between water and swimmer, I began to see that the right stroke could unleash great potential. The more streamlined the stroke, the less prohibited the swimmer, the more water she can move. I’ve found tremendous power and positive energy behind using something skillfully and for it’s intended purpose.
We are the people for this time; we must find our strokes, our approaches, our ideas, and our varieties of leadership styles thus further unlocking our potential. Obama’s presidential campaign is a great example to all of us to be ever vigilant and mindful of our time, not saving everything up for one moment but continuously practicing for the moment(s) in history that we were made for. This essay is practice, the writing group, the reflecting and reading, are all practice. My lessons in time management have already begun.