Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Through Her Eyes

This weekend we had the distinct privilege of hosting the Chilis as they, along with thousands of others braved their way to DC for the inauguration of Barack Obama. Over the years, I've become good friends with Mrs. Chili having been connected to her through another blogger. We've shared many a laugh and even a burger once as she passed through National airport.

One of the things I've come to respect about Chili is her passion. She is woman who can voice an opinion stronger than Oprah, multi-task better than Martha Stewart and swear worse than Gary Busey. But through and through, she is passionate.

She and her family drove from New England to witness history this week. On Tuesday, they woke at 5:30 AM and jumped on Metro within 30 minutes, heading downtown. Twenty degrees and a few granola bars in their pockets; she, her husband and two kids each took off wearing two pairs of socks, two hats, gloves and more layers than I could count. They crammed onto Metro cars, squeezed up escalators, walked several blocks and stood shoulder to shoulder with thousands of new friends.

As we were planning the activities in our family room the night before, the TV was playing with weather and transportation updates. All of sudden, Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech played...and she teared up. Another segment aired a little while later...and she cried again. The next day as they recounted their experience and how it fulfilled everything she hoped for, she choked up once more.

As she welled with emotion over the two days, I could not have been happier for her. But I realized at the same time...I have never felt that same passion about anything (aside from maybe my family and dear friends). The inauguration was amazing; for what it represented and what other people felt. I was thrilled for her happiness, but I could not create those same feelings inside.

These are the moments when I realize how emotionally divested I've become over the years. I can celebrate other's joys and sadness, but rarely will it affect me personally. I no longer cry at funerals or movies. It's difficult for me to stay engaged in activities beyond a few months. I don't even get worked up when Sally Struthers talks about the starving children (though much of that stems from my belief that she's eating a large portion of the food herself).

Watching Chili's laughter and reflection made me realize how much I miss that in myself. It was there inside me at one point...but somewhere, has slowly gone. I appreciate it in others, but none of these feelings exist deep down. Who knows if it's the speed at which life is going or some scarring over the years that has made me this jaded.

Regardless, it was nice to be a part of that passion this week. Living this event through her was probably the best way to experience something so historic and memorable. She thanked me over and over for what a magical experience it was, but I think it was I who got the better end of the deal.



Blogger Mamma said...

For some reason, I couldn't cry yesterday either.

But I think it's because I'm so afraid something will happen. I'm so afraid our new President has been handed a pile a crap that no one can fix and then when he fails everyone will say "see I told you."

I guess I'm just too afraid of getting my hopes up.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Steve (Green Dads) said...

I wish I could be a little more like you. I get so emotional about things sometimes, crying in movies, etc. Obama gets me worked up too, I really wish we could have come down there for the inauguration.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

Steve, the whole thing was much more meaningful because I could share it with you. I am SO grateful to you and Larry for opening up your home and sharing your time with us.

I've been thinking a lot about my reactions to these things - more so lately than usual. I think my response comes from a belief (that borders on knowledge on a cosmic level) that we can be so much better than we are right now. People who understand that, and who work to try to encourage that understanding in others, are doing the most important work and are the people I hold in the highest regard. Can one person do it all? No, but one person CAN make an important difference.

Have you heard the starfish story? One night, there was a terrible storm that washed thousands of starfish up on the beach. As he was walking along, a man encountered a young boy tossing the fish one at a time back into the waves.

"You know," the man told the boy, "there are thousands of starfish on the beach. You can't save them all."

The boy looked around him, picked up another starfish, tossed it into the waves and said,"maybe not, but I saved THAT one."

Obama encourages us to do what WE can, even if that means raising a good kid or donating old clothes to a shelter or volunteering time to read aloud to elderly people in a nursing home. Love doesn't have to be grand and public, but every bit of it matters.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Great story Steve. I dreamed of being able to attend. The Chilis are lucky to have a friend like you.

Did you meet through blogging or were you friends before?

9:33 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

Jeff, I wholeheartedly agree - we ARE lucky to have such friends.

We met through blogging. I had occasion to layover at Ronald Reagan airport last year, and Steve took time out of his day to fight through DC AND airport traffic to come and meet me for lunch. We had an amazing time, and I knew, about two minutes after the waitress delivered our sodas, that I'd found a longitme friend.

2:13 PM  

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