Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hope and Inspiration

The dramatic survival of 155 passengers and crew after their plane crash-landed in the Hudson River seems to have filled the nation with hope, a nation already jubilant over the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama.

I look at these amazing photos of people standing calmly (well, probably not really calmly) on the wings of the momentarily floating airplane, ice cold water rushing around their feet, as the ferry boats race toward them, and it just fills my heart with joy and wonder at it all.

Another splendid image that brought tears to my eyes, though for an entirely different reason, was a tape, played on television, of Yo-Yo Ma in 1961, at the age of 7, playing the cello with his sister for then-president John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie. Ma went on to play for five sitting presidents and will, of course, be playing at Obama's inauguration on Tuesday, which I am looking forward to: both the inauguration and the music, a work composed for the occasion called "Air and Simple Gifts." ("Simple Gifts" is one of my favorite melodies.)

I was talking to a poet yesterday, who was equally excited about the inaugural poet, Elizabeth Alexander. I asked her if she had any thoughts about poetry and the present dismal state of the economy, expecting she might say something about the healing value of poetry and the arts.

She talked about Obama as the embodiment of the merger of poetry and politics, the importance of eloquence, of words, of verbal expression as a means of inspiring and leading, the lasting impacts of people like Abraham Lincoln, Kennedy, and Obama, that words are not "just words," but have the ability to inspire and to find solutions, not merely to heal, though that is valuable too.

I have worked as an urban and environmental planner and have a degree in international relations and have some idea of the problems we are up against, but it is as a lover of words, music, and art, that I am feeling hopeful, and inspired, today.


Marisa said...

Hooray for Hope!

Emily said...

I'm going to find that pilot and send him something cool. That story made a lot of us aviation nerds really happy and hopeful that the training we do, if we stick to it, will keep us and the people below safe. What a hero. And the ATC dialogue was priceless. I think the last thing he said before ditching was, "Nope. Won't make it to Jersey. Gonna have to land in the Hudson".

Well ok then. :)

Maricello said...

I agree, Emily, though I am more of a reluctant passenger than an aviation enthusiast.

US Airways pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger is from Danville, California, if that is anywhere near you. They are planning celebration for him on Saturday; in the meantime, he'll be at the inauguration. See a news link.

Emily said...

He's up in Contra Costa county....NoCal. But I got his address, and think I'll send him something. At the very least, a letter. :)