Thursday, August 22, 2019

BECOMING by Michelle Obama

One of my best memories of summer 2019 will be my having read the book BECOMING by Michelle Obama. It read much like the way I've heard her speak on television. Real. Dignified. Interesting.

I related so much with her story of how she grew up learning to play the piano on a beat-up but loved instrument with imperfectly chipped keys and how when it was her turn to play at a recital on a perfect piano, that she froze. I've had similar feelings. Especially with cars and neighborhoods ... preferring the coziness of beat-up but loved objects over perfectly fancy ones. 

The lessons that Michelle learned through her college roommate Suzanne also hit home for me. That it's ok to sometimes swerve off one's ambitious path and one's list of checkboxes and have some fun. I adored the way President Obama proposed to Michelle. I hadn't heard that story before and I could just imagine exactly how the tension was building up while they were at dinner and how it all released so beautifully with the arrival of dessert. It made me smile and it made me feel like I was right there.

I found intriguing her use of the term America's Gaze in terms of how it felt to manage the way Americans were looking/gazing at her and her family during campaigns and their time in the White House. On page 270, she writes: "I've learned that it's harder to hate up close," which I agree with. That even if we Americans vehemently disagree, we can actually coexist if we dare to move beyond the gaze, move behind the false bravery of 280 characters, and allow for interactions that involve true sharing and true listening.

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