I have a confession: I used to be a Dave Matthews Band fan. I remember going to Sam Goody with my mom and settling on an Under the Table and Dreaming CD to bring to summer camp in 1995 (I was 10 going on 11 at the time). The years that followed I would ask my dad to get me tickets to Dave Matthews Band concerts. I went to my fair share.
It is now 22 years since my mom bought me Under the Table and Dreaming and I find myself thinking about the “good ol’ days”. You know, when life seemed simpler. People who have had near-death experiences claim that they saw their entire life flash before their eyes. There are many scientific reasons for this. One is that when you think you’re about to die your body releases adrenaline causing your brain to think in hyper speed allowing for numerous memories to be played in a short amount of time. Many who had these near-death experiences claim it was mostly pleasurable memories that flashed before their eyes. So I wonder which are my defining memories? Are they all from the “good ol’ days”?
One memory that sticks out from all the rest is from a Dave Matthews Band concert. It was June 11, 2001. Three months before one of the worst events in my life (and most New Yorkers’ lives). The Dave Matthews Band was performing at the old Giants Stadium. During the encore, they started to play “Two Step”. Sensing a brisk change in the air, Dave ad-libbed lyrics like “The clouds opened up”. At that moment thunder and intense lightening erupted. Dave went on to say “Let it rain, let it rain” and boy did it rain. It poured.
Isaac Guzman, recapping the night for the New York Daily News wrote: “Matthews sang as a torrent engulfed the crowd, which ecstatically danced through the storm, even as hailstones began pelting down. It was the kind of unplanned mayhem that turns a good concert into an indelible memory, and Matthews took the moment to heart. “Two Step” possessed the kind of furious intensity that lets a massive crowd forget that, in just a few moments, they’ll be shivering and soaked, waiting in the cold for as long as 90 minutes to catch a bus home.”
I still remember the moment when tens of thousands of people said, “fuck it” and danced euphorically. I remember feeling like we were all in this together. That I was part of something special. I do not remember how I got home, nor do I remember ever feeling cold. However, I do remember getting Goosebumps. I do remember feeling inspired.
In the months and years that followed, I remember various moments that inspired me and made me feel connected. I remember President George W. Bush’s first pitch in Game 3 of the 2001 World Series on October 30th, 2001, 49 days after September 11th. I remember standing outside in the cold to watch President Obama deliver his inauguration address on January 21, 2009. I remember Yankee Stadium during Derek Jeter’s last game. As 40,000 people chanting along to “De-rek Je-ter”, there wasn’t a dry eye in the ballpark.
The moments that define us are the moments that are not really about just us. The Dave Matthews concert was not about Dave or me. It was about tens of thousands of people connecting on a deeper level. President Bush’s first pitch was not about him or me. His first pitch represented America’s pastime coming back to the forefront to help New Yorkers and Americans heal in the wake of September 11th. President Obama’s inauguration was not about President Obama or the fact I was lucky enough to attend it, it was about being part of history. And Derek Jeter’s last game on September 25, 2014 at Yankee Stadium was not about him. It was about celebrating the end of a two-decade period in New York history that included some of New York’s highest points and some of its darkest.
One of my biggest issues with President-elect Donald Trump is that he leaves me uninspired. Perhaps it is due to his divisive rhetoric or due to our clashing ideologies. As a result my lack of inspiration could explain why I am left feeling apprehensive about the future. If our defining moments, those that will flash before us before we die, are memories where we were brought together, will I have any moments during Trump’s presidency that will flash before my eyes before I die?
This coming Friday, President-elect Trump becomes President Trump and the nation will listen very closely to his every word. We will watch on as he responds to the hundreds of thousands of protestors who plan to storm the streets of D.C. We will wait to hear the moment that he tries to bring the protestors into his vision of America.
A President, a leader, needs to represent us all, hear us all, and understand us all. He needs to be a pillar of strength while also being compassionate and sympathetic to our various struggles, which often come in conflict with one another’s. Being President is not an easy job.
President Trump will need to stand in front of the U.S. Capitol and inspire us all (even if it pours). He should give us a reason to remember his inaugural address like we do Kennedy’s, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” and Lincoln’s, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.”
We should be inspired and we need to come together. I want to experience moments in time that will flash before my eyes before I die. President Trump’s time has come. Much like Franklin Roosevelt who lifted himself out of his wheelchair to lift this nation up, Donald Trump needs to lift us up and bring us together.