As the lovely Kula has said her Morning Reactions will be "sporadic" over the next two weeks - she thinks packing a household and moving from Korea to the U.S. is more important than her duties here at DKos ... what nerve! - I'm filling in to give the Kula Krew a place to gather and share Koffee, Kuddles, and Konversation.
I'd been planning a Melancholy Monday series, because Monday is usually the first day of the workweek and we all love to dread and moan about the week to come. But there's something special happening this week, well, two things. First: today is the observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, so it's a holiday. And second, there's some big deal in Washington tomorrow. Something about the elections, I think.
Oh who am I kidding? Didn't you cry yesterday watching that concert?
More below the fold....
I'm neither as old as the Old Redneck nor probably as sweet as Sweet Thing, but Herself and I also bawled like babies while watching the We Are One concert kicking off the Inaugural festivities. I know some are upset that Bishop Gene Robinson's invocation was not included, and as a lesbian I understand their upset. I too was a bit disappointed not to see that.
But then I made a choice to let myself be swept away. And that's not a choice I afford myself very often. Unlike President-Elect Obama, whom I think was likely calm on his wedding day, I'm not a naturally calm person. I have to work hard to keep a level emotional state, because I'm bipolar. Whenever I start to feel any strong emotion, I tell myself: "Things are rarely as bad, or as good, as they seem." That sentence is how I was able to keep cool when I practiced law. I've found that tamping down that first emotional response - positive or negative - makes me a better partner, a better mom, a better friend, and a better person. Because the alternative, for me, often wasn't pretty.
The night of November 4th was an exception. At 11pm when Keith Olbermann "made it official," I leapt in the air - as high as the battered ol' gams would take me anyway - and let out a very loud "YESSSSS!" And then I let myself have a big cry. All the hours, all the hopes, all the fighting to keep my gritty optimism when it seemed the other party might seize the narrative and turn things around ... were not wasted. Yes, we could.
And when the U.S. Army Band Herald Trumpets kicked off yesterday's event with Aaron Copeland's "Fanfare for a Common Man," one of my favorite works by one of my favorite composers, I knew I had to let yesterday's concert be one of those exceptions too. Because it wasn't simply a concert for our tomorrow-to-be President. It was a celebration of ourselves.
Copeland's magic returned when Tom Hanks performed the "Tribute to Abraham Lincoln," and how fitting that the producers chose two works by perhaps America's finest classical composer. But the producers chose exceptionally well throughout. From James Taylor to Stevie Wonder, from Garth Brooks singing "American Pie" to Beyonce concluding with "America the Beautiful," from Tiger Woods' stirring tribute to his father and all of our military and their families to Jamie Foxx's droll spoof of Obama himself, the concert captured the best essence of who we long to be as a nation, as a people.
I know some think this inaugural is over the top. Too expensive at a time when too many Americans are hurting and money is too tight. I understand the reasoning, but I respectfully disagree. Sometimes the most precious assets we have are hope, courage, and bonding with one another. This is one of those times. And if this week's inaugural festivities revive our hope, renew our courage, and reknit our bond as a nation - a people - it will have been money well spent.
We are not "the greatest country in the world." But we have been before and can be again a great nation, a great people. We are defined more by our differences than by our likenesses, more by our struggles than by our victories. This week will highlight and celebrate those differences and those struggles, from today's commemoration of one of our slain heroes, to tomorrow's inauguration of that slain hero's dream.
So let yourself get misty-eyed today, and this week. Remember when you dreamt this nation - We the People - could meet your highest hopes rather than your worst fears. Give yourself permission to dream again.
We need those dreams now, more than ever.