A quick note since it’s been awhile: For me, one of the finest moments (among many!) of the past week was when Barack Obama, after taking his official oath of office for his second term as president of the United States, after all the typical American show business was over, made his way up through the crowd to the portico of the Capitol and then stopped. He paused just inside the door, in the shadow, and turned back to take in the throngs of people filling the expanse of the Mall on a gray, cold winter midday, the flags flapping, the spindly trees standing tall, the celebratory, hopeful moment, unlike any other. I’ve never seen another moment like it myself, a president aware of impermanence and pausing to appreciate it. In Zen, we call it beginner’s mind.
In any case, it was another manifestation of what makes Obama, despite whatever failings he may have, so extraordinary: He is quite simply profoundly human.
No one has said anything about the moment in the press, the television commentators said nothing as I watched it live. But I managed to dig up a video clip of Obama’s beginner’s mind moment on the Web.