Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Rare Chance

If you think back, you can surely remember a few unique days in your life ... days that were special, when you knew at the time you were experiencing something great, or beautiful, or important.

We only get a few such days. You can count them on your hands, or if you're older, on your hands and toes. I have several that come immediately to mind. When I was 30 or so I took my girlfriend on a long hike to a 1,200 foot rim overlook in Capitol Reef National Park. It was Summer and bright and desert dry and blue skied, and we tromped alone, over the rises and through the washes, up the slickrock and past the arches, up along the foot of cliffs and domes, up under the wings of the red tailed hawk, up into the blue and over the red, up until all of creation spread below us in silence and beauty.

There, at the top of that cliff and under those warm skies, I withdrew a diamond and on bent knee asked my girlfriend to marry me, and she said "yes."

And the entire time, I knew I should savor that day, drink in the sounds and smells and sights, for it was an important day that would pass only once.

Years before, when I was 18 or so, I strode into the elementary school in which I had learned to add (and not to spell), up the steps that seemed so high years before, through the doors that had seemed so heavy, and into the smells that had occupied my childhood. And in that place so important to my life as a child, I began my life as an adult, voting for the first time, exercising a franchise nurtured with the blood and sacrifice of generations who came before me.

As I signed my name and punched my first ballot, I knew I should savor that day, drink in the pride of adulthood and the honor of those who sacrificed to grant me the privilege, for it was an important day that would pass only once.

We have days like these, from time to time. Some personal, like my day on the cliff and my day in the voting booth, and some public: Challenger. Kennedy. June 7th, 1944. Days where we're self-aware and we realize we're experiencing something remarkable, for good or bad, that we should take in deeply and remember.

Today was such a day. Today I was able to see a people who had, for so long, averted their eyes and scuttled along the edges of walls and streets, who had covered their faces and hushed their tones for fear of drawing deadly attention ... today I saw this people standing tall, exposed faces raised high with pride, striding not along the margins but boldly down the middle of their streets and walkways, directly into the doors of their public places, and with the honor and courage, exercising a right of self determination that places them among the free peoples of the world.

And as I looked into their eyes and saw the purple of their fingers and read the joy and jubilation of their words, I knew I should savor this day, drink in the awe and humility inspired by such courage in the name of what is right, witness with careful attention the birth of a free people, for it is an important day that may pass only once.


At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done. Worthy of an op-ed piece. g

At 5:23 PM, Blogger Mr. Dart said...

I had the great pleasure of watching CNN coverage of the election from a hotel room in Budapest, a place that went through a similar experiance fifteen years ago. I pray I will never, ever underestimate the courage and resiliance of the people of this world who have pushed past their fear to emerge from unimaginable opression.

Way to go, Iraq. May God bless you, everyone.


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