I am making my first trip to Chicago next week from the United Kingdom. I feel like a mad hatter because I decided to do that only a few days ago. Reason? I have been a keen armchair follower of Barack Obama's campaign for the past 15 months, from my flat in Berkshire, being totally awe-inspired by what has been unfolding in the USA, to the extent of having written over a hundred articles on his progress.
Suddenly last week, I couldn't bear to watch history being made from the sidelines anymore, and made my decision to go to Chicago and be a volunteer on the front line, to meet fellow supporters, persuade the doubters, work on the phones and be right in the heart of it for those crucial few days. Being an empowerment and motivational expert, I guess those skills should come in handy in these last moments when the prize is so near and yet seems so far!
Yes, siree, I am all FIRED UP and READY TO GO! And I cannot believe I am doing this, dropping everything and flying off on my own, not knowing where I am going and what I will be doing. But that is the power of this unknown man to persuade, to inspire and to lead, that he has me following meekly behind in sheer admiration and excitement because of the possibilities of his presidency. It could have a dramatic effect on us here in Britain, especially on minority perceptions, beliefs, expectations and dreams. So it is not an idle journey.
In fact, it is a journey I really shouldn't be making because I did not know I would still be alive to do it, having been very ill since March 2007. I am a diabetic, but one with a difference. My body has been rejecting every medication during the whole time Obama has been campaigning. My life since last year has been nothing but one medication trial after another, tablets and injections, in rotation, all rejected by my body. But I kept hearing "Yes, we can" in the distance and it has inspired my own fight back, along with the intense desire to actually see him reach the White House. Some days it is one hell of a battle and all I can do is give in and lie in bed, feeling terribly weak and beaten. Some days I was even advised to have an ambulance on standby as medical staff feared I was heading for a coma. Doctors thought I might have had a stroke or heart attack months ago. Other days, like now, I could climb mountains. But every single day I have kept telling myself: "Yes, I can" too. And here I am still smiling, against the odds.
Apparently I am unique in that problem in Britain. I love being one of a kind, but, just for this, I would love to be like everyone else! However, I am certainly not complaining because I am here, enjoying life, still writing and still smiling, in an unbelievable way. I know I cannot take my days for granted, so I thought what better way to spend them than to be a volunteer at Campaign HQ in Chicago, to share in this amazing moment. No matter what happens to me after that, it would have been well and truly worth it.
History is being made in America in a few days time. It will be one of those magical moments we will be remembering 30 years on, wondering what we were doing on that night. It will be easy for me to recall because i will be right where it all happens and it seems unreal as a Brit.
I have a wish list of stuff I hope to achieve, like presenting the only book on diversity management in Europe to the Senator, interviewing both Michelle Obama and Jill Biden and perhaps take in an Oprah Winfrey show. That would all be such a wonderful experience. But those would be the icing on being able to make the trip at all.
So Chicago, here I come. I really can't wait to meet everyone.
And, YES, I certainly CAN!!