An evening over 2 years in the making, I originally purchased tickets for this night with the Richmond Forum as a Christmas gift for my daughters in 2019. She was scheduled to speak in March of 2020, but as the news of the Covid pandemic percolated and cases began to skyrocket, this night was indefinitely postponed. Sure, we could have asked for a refund, but we held on to the tickets in hopes that the night would eventually be rescheduled.
The Richmond Forum is a program whose goal is to expose people to different views and to engage the community in meaningful conversation. They have brought many prominent names to Richmond to speak, including former President Obama himself. Watch the video in this link about the forum. It’s powerful!
Finally, the event did happen! Armed with pictures of our vaccine cards, signed health forms, and KN-95 masks as was necessary for admission, on Tuesday, my daughters and I got to witness the conversation between a moderator from the Richmond forum and Michelle Obama herself! Our tickets were for the simulcast presentation in the Dominion Energy Center, also known as the Carpenter Theater. Mrs. Obama actually spoke in the Altria Theater, formally The Mosque. This venue sold out on the first day of ticket sales! Both theaters are stunning!
We were seated in the orchestra pit, directly in front of the screen. Think about sitting in the first row of the movie theater. Not ideal for watching the screen, but we made it work. I told my girls they would have plenty of time in cervical extension to counteract the many hours a day we spend in forward flexion on our screens. They were not amused by my comment.
However, I quickly became lost in the conversation as it began. It was almost as good as being in the Altria theater with her. She’s such a phenomenal speaker, and her ease of conversation with the moderator was exactly what I’d expected. She spoke about her experiences as a wife and mother, as a child growing up in the southside of Chicago, in her education and career, and in her role as First Lady. She was charming, honest, and humble.
Michelle Obama gave me hope in a world that has grown increasingly dark and hostile. She encouraged us to think small; that is, not to underestimate the powerful impact of improving the world one life at a time. We don’t always have to think that if we don’t do something huge, that our impact on the world is not important. And she encouraged parents to let their kids breathe and experience joys in life; to not force them to live out your dreams or to work so hard to check off boxes that they don’t feel like they are allowed to change their paths. I hope this is what I’m giving my girls.
Often I live my life with one foot in the grave and one hand reaching for the stars. I’m all at once so pessimistic about the state of the world, especially lately, that sometimes I wonder if it’s worth still being here to witness so much pain and hate, while on the other hand, I’m so motivated to do something to change the state of things and to leave the world a better place for my children that I’m contemplating studying for another advanced degree to gain more tools to do so. It’s a strange existence and quite the conundrum. But Mrs. Obama lends light to my pessimism.
If you haven’t read her book, Becoming, you should. Although it’s an autobiography, it reads more like a story. It’s perhaps my favorite in my collection of autobiographies (and, yes, I have a section in my library just for these.)
I’m so happy that this night did happen. It was worth the wait!
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.