Today was a joyous and happy day for most of my friends, for a wide variety of reasons. Most of the people I know respect President Obama and hope that he will bring a new era of pragmatism and rationality to the White House. Even most of the people who did not support Obama put aside their differences (at least for today) and wished him well. Many of us, especially those over 40, were filled with the wonderment of something we never thought we'd see during our lifetimes. One person took it upon himself to be the raincloud of the day, and he did so in grand style, but he was definitely in the minority.
I have a favorite moment from the day, one that I keep coming back to over and over again. It's not Bush flying away in the helicopter, nor the first time I heard the words, "former-President Bush." It's not listening to Obama say, "and non-believers", though that was up there. In fact, it's not directly related to the transfer of power at all. Rather, it was a part of the ceremony leading up to it, although technically it probably happened at the exact moment that Obama became president.
Did you see Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, and Anthony McGill perform the John Williams piece just before Obama took the oath? If not, you should. If you did, you should see it again. At the very least, start watching around the 2:20 mark, and pay attention to Yo Yo Ma for about one minute. I've even embedded it in high-quality for you.
I have a bit of a crush on Yo Yo Ma. It's not because he's a brilliant musician, though he is. It's not because I used to be a cello player, though I was. It's not even because one of my favorite recordings ever is his collaboration with Bobby McFerrin, though it's definitely in my top 20. Rather, it's because no matter what he's doing, he always seems to be the happiest person on earth.
Watch that clip again. Every move he makes is filled with joy, and every single note is dripping with exuberance. I'm sure he's freezing his ass off, he's still a little sore from the secret service's extra thorough body cavity search, and he stubbed his toe just before going on stage, but he doesn't care. He's in love with every single moment of what he's doing, and he doesn't care if the whole world knows it.
I've probably replayed that video 20 times today. It's a beautiful piece of music and a beautiful moment, and I just can't help smiling as I watch it.
I listened to that song today while going through my email, and the juxtaposition between Yo Yo Ma and my friend the raincloud was really jarring-- I've been thinking about it for a few hours. On one hand we have someone who seems bitter, cranky, and negative. On the other, someone who radiates the joy of just being alive. It makes me think about the way I live my life, and which one of those people I would rather emulate. I need to spend more time focusing on the positive, and less on the negative.
Even though I unloaded a flamethrower on your ass today, dear raincloud, thank you. You've just helped me become a slightly better person.
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