Tuesday dawned cold and cloudy. Snowflakes fell in Memphis — not many, but it was snow nonetheless. I stood on my back porch, sipping coffee from a steamy mug and watching my two mutts take in the fresh day, cocking their heads at the odd white stuff, running around the yard, happy to be alive.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. That hoary cliche somehow came into my head, and I imagined what it must be like to be eternally in that frame of mind — like a dog — to run out each morning and embrace a brand-new day with a mind unhindered by expectations or hopes or worries. Rain? Ugh. Oh well, gotta pee. Snow? Wow, look at that. Gotta pee. Furry little Buddha dogs, being here now, taking in each moment with all their senses.
Being human rather than canine, I'd watched the weather report on television the night before and knew snow was possible. And I'd watched the news and read commentaries on the Internet and listened to NPR and they were all full of predictions and analysis and snippets of information about this day, this Tuesday, when we would get a new American president.
And as a human, I admit to having my share of expectations and hopes and worries. Many are the days I have embraced cynicism and let my worries color the hours. Many are the days I have given in to anger and petty concerns. But on this day, something besides snow was in the air. I could feel it.
At work, people gathered in small groups around computer screens to watch history unfold. I saw tough-minded co-workers get moist-eyed as the new president spoke — and as the camera panned over saluting veterans, civil rights pioneers, a Tuskegee airman, politicians of every stripe. Young and old, black, brown, and white stood united in hope, in a throng as far as the eye could see in the city of our Founding Fathers. The new president spoke of taking responsibility and safeguarding our freedom — concepts tried and true — but somehow the words seemed fresh, unlike the platitudes and sloganeering of recent years. Hope was in the air.
Of course, oratory is fleeting. Words are just words. And the rigors and antipathies of politics-as-usual will no doubt soon return. In our country, there are many wounds to heal, many bridges to build, many rivers to cross.
But this day seemed new, full of promise. And a new day — to be embraced like it's our first day — is all we can ask for.