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A Crystal Heart

January 19th, 2009 · 46 Comments

I watched the Inaugural celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. There were singers singing about freedom, and actors reading the words of great Americans from the past. And above it that great stone effigy of Lincoln scowling down like a great prophet who had delivered his message of freedom and was waiting to see how badly we’re going to fuck it up.

And I have to admit it, I got a little choked up.

And I thought,
Am I being cynical enough?

I thought,
Do I need to keep my guard up?

I thought,
Am I being suspicious enough?

I thought,
Will people think me a fool, if I’m earnest in my hope?

Then I realized, I wasn’t choked up
Because of the Rosa Parks story
Or the Lincoln quotes
Or the talk of a nation built on an idea.

I was choked up because I was tired.
Ever been that tired?
So tired you feel like you might weep?
I was tired of being lied to, and manipulated, and treated without respect,
Like I was some sort of moron.
I was tired of freedom and love of country being thrown in my face
Like ads for soap, in order to sell an unjust agenda.
I was tired of my patriotism being questioned because I had the audacity
To point out that I was being lied to.
By leaders who became avatars of cynicism, and doubt, and mistrust.
And yes, death.

I was exhausted.
And cynical.

Shouldn’t I be?

Because if I go into this new era,
With a heart clear of cynicism,
I could get hurt.
I could look the fool.
I could get heartbroken.

Cynicism seems so attractive when compared to heartbreak.
You could be cool.
Heartless, but cool.

When I was talking about Death a lot.
I talked about how we may not all charge the machine gun nest
Or save the passengers from the freezing water
Or carry the child out of the burning building
But we would, we will, all face death
Maybe many times.
And how we behave at those times
Is the measure of our courage, of our character.

And so maybe now,
Like taking the chance to fall in love,
We face another one of those moments,
But instead of facing it one at a time
Small, trying moments, large in our little lives
We face this together.

We can be cynical. Hold back. Be safe.
We can be suspicious, and doubtful,
Or we can go forth openly, hopefully
With a heart
Clear of the cloud of cynicism.

A crystal heart.

And if I were still on speaking terms with God,
That’s what I’d pray for.
A crystal heart.
Clear in purpose,
Clear in righteousness
Clear in resolve
For us all.

And it might get broken.
And it will take courage to face that.
And it will hurt like a bitch if it does.

But then again,
Have you ever fallen in love?
Pure, sweet, illuminating, edifying love?
It makes us better than we could ever be.
Stronger, taller, kinder, more generous.
Tolerant, patient, and assured.

Should I be more cynical?

Should I be more suspicious?

Should I keep my guard up?

I think not.

To be right, to save face in retrospect, to live for the hope
Of profitable hindsight.
Is safe, and shallow and cowardly
And more likely to bring about a future darker than today.

No, I think I’ll go into this fresh American future
With a crystal heart.
Take the risk.

After all, you guys will all be there.
We’ll all be there.

Thanks for helping me think this through.

Happy Martin Luther King Day
Happy Inauguration

Tags: Uncategorized

46 responses so far ↓

  • 1 JennyO // Jan 19, 2009 at 5:50 am

    Thanks, Chris. This touched me deeply.

  • 2 K // Jan 19, 2009 at 6:16 am

    Such inspirational words for my early morning enjoyment, Chris! I like “Crystal Heart” much better than “cautious optimism.”

  • 3 Drea // Jan 19, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Wow, you touched on so many great points. Thank you for the refreshing outlook.

  • 4 GretchenFaith // Jan 19, 2009 at 6:45 am

    There you go, making me cry at 8:45 in the morning. Mascara all over the place…

    I have the same hopes, but you’ve articulated them brilliantly.

  • 5 Leprrkan // Jan 19, 2009 at 8:01 am

    Thank You… it’s hard to explain why tomorrow and the prospect of all it will bring has me so excited and you’ve hit it… awesome 🙂


  • 6 JoeyTheSquash // Jan 19, 2009 at 9:08 am

    That was great.

  • 7 John A // Jan 19, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Right On Brother!

    I too felt betrayed. But you know what?

    We can’t let those fuckers steal our hope.

  • 8 Skooch // Jan 19, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Hopefully enough people will feel the same way.

  • 9 Ginjg // Jan 19, 2009 at 10:27 am

    you’ve expressed what so many of us have been experiencing. Thank you

  • 10 Picard // Jan 19, 2009 at 10:59 am

    My, you said that well. Guess the audacity of hope is contagious. Obama has already affected one important change…. my attitude. Suddenly the world doesn’t look quite as bad.

  • 11 Richard S. Crawford // Jan 19, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Thanks for posting this. You’ve captured perfectly the way I feel, and the way so many people are feeling right now.

    Less than twenty-four hours to go, brother.

  • 12 Melissa Blue // Jan 19, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Beautiful words.

  • 13 Heather P // Jan 19, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Thank you Chris. This is beautiful. I am so passing this on to many of my friends.

  • 14 Mary // Jan 19, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    This is wonderful, Chris. Now I’m all choked up.

    You know, there are people accusing liberals of believing that Obama is the Messiah. I don’t think he’s the Messiah. I think he’s an intelligent, kindhearted guy who knows how to lead with words. He inspires us to come together to get ourselves out of the mess that’s been created, rather than to give in to despondency. It’s much easier to have courage with his inspiration.

  • 15 albertriehle // Jan 19, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Well said Author Guy! You have to keep putting yourself out there so you can get hurt or the cynisism just loses it’s punch!

    Keeeding, keeeding. sheesh.

    Really well said though. Here’s to change we can believe in!

  • 16 The Hitman // Jan 19, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Bravo sir, BRAVO!

    I’ll raise a toast to you and to all who move forward with crystal hearts and if one goes down we all go down together!


  • 17 DocGonzo // Jan 19, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    You summed up so beautifully what we are all feeling and hoping at this time. We are all, most assuredly, in this together.

    I hope this generation will answer the call.


  • 18 Sara // Jan 19, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    This explains why I’ve bought and read all your books. You totally get me 🙂

  • 19 Stefan Jones // Jan 19, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Things have been so bad that the prospect of even a merely competent guy in the White House is cause for celebration and hope.

    I suspect that Obama is much more than merely competent, but I’m going to set my expectations at that.

    To help usher out the old, I clipped a picture of #43 out of the newspaper. After tomorrow’s swearing in I plan on wiping my butt with it.

  • 20 Youiswhatyouam // Jan 19, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Maybe I’m too cynical, but the best thing about that was that is followed by the headline “Signed books – even in Monkey Butt!!!”

    Because in the end, democrats… republicans… It’s really all about monkey butt.

  • 21 Heather // Jan 19, 2009 at 8:08 pm


    Thank you. And yes, I’m passing this on for others to read and appreciate.

  • 22 daisyfae // Jan 19, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    i’ve been so reluctant… i want to have “hope”… but am terrified of being stomped on… your words resonate. but is there a happy medium? won’t the pole-suckers on this side of the aisle subjugate this moment?

    i’ll try… i’ll work for it… but there will be some bricks in reserve, ready to rebuild the fortress…

  • 23 Ann // Jan 19, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you for your crystal heart.

  • 24 Amanda W // Jan 20, 2009 at 12:48 am

    you are an amazing writer. i get obsessed with different book series but then i read something you wrote and you make me cry in only a paragraph. i’ve been this tired before too. about many different things in life, but this year especially i was the kind of tired that you are writing about. new things happen everyday that make me question the hope and optimism that I put on people and things and i’m tired of it. just keep on hoping i suppose. thanks authorguy 🙂

  • 25 Joseph Rogers // Jan 20, 2009 at 4:32 am

    Chris, you move me, sir. Your words ring true when put in context of the past 8 years for so many, I’m sure.

    There are parts of your writing that reminded me of something, so I went to YouTube and found something that I hope you’ll like. It’s Garth Brooks’ song, “Standing outside the Fire”, so try to overlook if you don’t like country but…

  • 26 Mobiustrip // Jan 20, 2009 at 11:18 am

    You’ve “crystalized” my thoughts!

    (Did you plagerize :”Crystal Heart” from the movie “The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl”?). I kid the author guy!…seriously, did you?

  • 27 Jessa Slade // Jan 20, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Oh sure, make me hope again. Damn you. Fine, I’ll do it. Because you’re right. We have to take the risk. Again.

  • 28 Lib // Jan 20, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Chris, I heard a heartbeat this morning. It’s one I haven’t heard in a long time. I think it was our nation’s.

    Wonderful blog, Chris.

  • 29 Picard // Jan 20, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Mr. Rogers. Wow. Ideas float around out there before they become noticeable. Before now, I wouldn’t have understood that connection, even thought I’ve seen that video before. Thanks, Joe. And thanks Chris. But for the record, there are only two kinds of music in the world, music that is written sincerely and performed with heart, and the other kind.

  • 30 A boardello diva // Jan 20, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Pile that lumber, ya pussy!

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    You said it beautifully. I jumped in with both feet! Oh, I have such hope and a crystal heart!

  • 31 Katrina // Jan 20, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    I definately enjoyed reading that. I recently had my own thoughts about the inauguration while Oprah, Jesse Jackson, and all the other folks who think Obama is God’s gift to the world referred to this as an “historic moment.” I’m not denying the significance of electing a black man president, but I started to think about my two daughters. They are going to have children one day and those kids, my grandkids, will study this event in their history books. They will ask me, “Grandma, you voted in that election. What was it like to know you were participating in something that important?” And I will pat their little heads and say, “I couldn’t tell you. I voted for the other guy.”

  • 32 edrie // Jan 20, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    chris, as always, you are elegant, profound and right on the money!

    i finally figured out who barack reminds me of, btw – he is perfect to be cast as josh in the upcoming filming of lamb!

    so, after he gets out of office in 8 years, how about considering him for the role?

    thanks for the sanity! and thanks for the smiles, laughs, hope, dreams and eager awaiting for your new book tour! see you and charley there.

    smiles, always – edrie (and the pony and pups!)

  • 33 Shari // Jan 21, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Thanks, Chris…I was very moved and touched by this post!

  • 34 Jo // Jan 21, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    I like your crystal heart a lot. 🙂 I’m thinking of getting one myself after reading this. It’s about time. 😉

  • 35 Mrs. Chili // Jan 22, 2009 at 7:50 am

    A man on the Metro, who didn’t see the inauguration, asked me what I’m most taking away from the experience. “I’m tired of being afraid,” I told him, “I’m coming away a lot less afraid.”

  • 36 Brady McElligott // Jan 22, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    I guess I don’t always have to approach your writing, expecting to laugh. That was very profound and — (it would be cynical to say that the word “beautiful” is trite, so I will say it anyway) — beautiful.

  • 37 K'Hovak // Jan 22, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    RELIEF is what I feel.

    Relief that I won’t be a victim to hatchet budget-cuts, that McSame and DQualye-in-a-Dress
    (a Dress splattered in moose/caribou/elk/bear/squirrel/salmon/turkey hemoglobin) promised.
    (I’m guessing that Barrack represented more people while in office in the State of Illinois
    that Sarah represents in all of Alaska.) The new administration is likely to offer incentives to
    retire. About half of my office is eligible to retire, and a few are just filling-a-chair until they
    qualify for the minimum-retirement-age or minimum-years-of-service threholds.

    Relief that the SCIENCES will no longer be seen as an “evil.” But as a necessary and REQUIRED
    set of tools to solve problems. SCIENCE gives insight, not hubris. Always has, always will.
    And the internet should be a tool to spread the best in science, not as a route/root to the next Dark Ages
    through bad opinions, misinformation, and lazy short-cuts to wrong-answers.

    Relief that we will no longer promote WAR CRIMES with fuzzy language to insulate the short-sighted
    leaders and those “operatives” short on humanity. If the interview with “Matthew Alexander” on the
    Daily Show With Jon Stewart was an enlightened assessment, that befriending the interview-“subject”
    was a far more effective tool, than the sham-poo they tried to say was necessary and “enhanced.”
    Some argued that the captives were “without country” so the “Geneva Conventions needn’t ought apply.”
    What a steaming pile of bat-guano … take the HIGH ROAD. Don’t even tap-dance near questionable
    tactics. We are better than that … the departing-politburro WERE NOT.

    Relief that the CONSTITUTION might actually survive, or more appropriately, be resurrected.
    In case you want my specific view … watch the ORIGINAL STAR TREK episode “OMEGA GLORY”
    when Capt Kirk reads the preamble to the Constitution. And where, in assessment of its meaning,
    says that it applies to the Yangs and the Comms/Coms/Colmes, that …
    And that was said by a Canadian, and WHY do we have to look outside of our own system to learn
    what we should already know?

    As George Carlin said “I love the freedoms we used to have.” So will we get them back? Or is it
    more smoke and mirrors?

    Relief that birth control will still be available … for those who act responsibly. One of the low-key
    wars the the Bush adminstration was coopting was the war on all forms of birth-control. (Oh,
    and Sarah, “Abstainence” was working in the governor’s mansion yet alone in the schools
    across Alaska, or across America.)

    As for those leaving:
    Seldom have I seen someone so wrong so consistently as the doofus that is exiting, except maybe
    his VP (to quote Bob Scheiffer regard a then-upcoming interview on Face The Nation, “an exclusive
    interview with President Bush’s number two” … and truer words were never spoken).

    And now I live down-wind (almost all summer and about a third of the winter) from the concentric
    pattern that the Decider will always wear in the eyes of those he demissively attacked and
    persecuted the world over. I always saw his actions as breeding a great many more tear-ist for
    a generation (or two), and NEVER as a reduction of the threat. Guan-T and Aboo Grab will show
    that the only “enhanced techniques” was the hatred that would be held against us, and to put many
    innocents at risk. Guess I’ll have to keep my tank full, plenty of pull-tab foods, and a bag packed
    should Dallas ever disappear. Oh and four or five escape roots depending up the prevailing
    winds and road-construction. I only wish I was kidding.

    As for “no attack in the last seven years” … why bother, just leave behind the occasional lap-top,
    or make the occasional video, and this country just looses it’s mind at the slightest suggestion of
    an insinuation of a infintesimal threat. Even well into 2003 (or 2004), there was a 46 year-old woman
    in RURAL Arkansas who was afraid, perhaps beyond agorophobia, of the next attack. Apparently
    no one told her, except for her “paralyzing fear,” that no one really cared. So really there’s been
    no need to attack, damage done and the goal achieved, cheaply and effectively.

    And the W Admin did just as much to “tenderize” rather than strengthen the public against attacks.
    Of course if the general population is willing to stand up to the terrierist, either in self-defense or in
    definance; we, as a group, might also question the practices and policies coming out of the “Whaffle”
    House. They did the job, kept us afraid, such that no new attacks were necessary.

    And after New Orleans, we have been like Russia in the early 90’s, a third world country with nooks.
    Frankly, the LAST super-power was Hurricane Katrina. Our weak underbelly was exposed, and
    again, why attack. We were already “crippled” beyond recovery.

    As for the price at the pumps, why did we end up paying a nickel-more-per-shoe per gallon (the shoe
    throwing incident in Iraq), AND 25-cents more per gallon because the 18-year-old “First Cat” died.
    Maybe the coincidental events and the hikes at the pump are only that, “coincidences”; but I
    remember the man-on-man hand-holding of Bush’s affair wilth Saudi oil.

    To quote a morning radio joke … “the only one missing Bush is the one who threw the shoes at him.”

    And did they really look at the title of the program? It was Monday, Jaunary 19th. Thanks to a
    non-working remote, I wanted to see what the the Weather Channel, so the manual “topic guide”
    dumped me at channel 350 on my way to 362 (DirecTV) … there was a show on MT-NBC or
    C-minus-NBC or Fox News (We slant it, you swallow it!); sorry that I don’t know what channel it was;
    but the title, just as it appeared on the display was:

    ” W.T.F. (W., Thanks & Farwell) ”

    After I picked my jaw up off the floor, it was about 20-minutes of giggling. Were that they naive,
    or was it an intentional reference that got past the programmers, the editors, the managers, and
    the censors. Although EIGHT years of WTF is about right.

    As for “Drill Baby Drill” … off-shore Virginia? From what I remeber from the appropriate classes,
    nearly the entire EAST COAST lacks the thermal maturity to produce oil. It takes geothermal
    heat to change organic material to oil. and even more to create gas. So while the structual traps
    and reservoirs are present; there will be little to no oil (or gas) to produce (unless the data was
    wrong or the professor misinformed … both? unlikely).

    As for me:
    Three women unknowingly combined to just crush my romantic notions. The first tore
    anything resembling a heart from the supporting vessels, throwing it to the ice for the
    face-off. The second, a former girl-friend, put a slap-shot on the net, that just strained
    it to pieces (just by showing up). And the third, who had embodied “her laugh, my favorite
    music” (from LAMB, thus ruining that line forever) ran-over what was left with a zamboni and
    spread it all over the ice, too thin to find any pieces (though the CSI nuts are almost orgasmic
    at the UV-glow the arena gives off), so “if the doubts don’t get me, the apathy [probably] will”
    (paraphrased from a song by Dean Friedman, I think the song-title was called “Solitaire”).
    What that means in the big scheme of things, is … I will probably quit donating blood, and I
    may change my license so that I’m no longer an organ donor. So for now I can’t find the
    romance in much, yet alone in this sorely needed change. So I have to settle for RELIEF.

    At his worst, Barrack will be a damn sight better that his predecessor. Hell, if he just flips a
    coin to make all his decisions (and says “Why so serious?”), he’ll be making infinitely more
    correct-decisons than Dallas-Divot-George and VP Blofeld (and didn’t Dick look a
    little too much like Jack Abramoff in that hat?).

    Rippin Words CM. Oh and Obama should have been sworn-in on a copy of LAMB.

  • 38 Bobbee G // Jan 23, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Thank you so much. That is beautiful.

  • 39 kris // Jan 23, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Word, my brother.

  • 40 Samantha // Jan 24, 2009 at 7:45 am

    wow. i wish there were words that can express the emotion coursing through my body right now after reading that. wow.

    thank you for that.

    it’ll be hanging on my fridge as a constant reminder that all is not lost.

  • 41 Julian R. // Jan 24, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Well. I am too damn tired to read more than a few sentences of what you said.

    So, I’m just gonna go with what everyone else said.

    Nicely said. That was beautiful. I want a crystal heart.


  • 42 Hilary Dawn Rice // Jan 26, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    I posted this to my facebook page:

    This is so Absolutely-Right-On…
    …right on the button, the nose, the pin head, the tip of my tongue…

    It is perfect.

    Chris, I am humbled by your writing, as always…
    …and by an amazing man who has come to us as some sort of seeming savior.

    I believe in Barack Obama and I am willing to allow myself a Crystal Heart!

  • 43 strugglingwriter // Jan 26, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    That was beautiful man. Seriously.

    It’s so hard to not be cynical after eight years of crap. Cynicism is surely a defense mechanism.

    Still, isn’t it great to read the newspaper and see that the grownups are now in charge making grownup decisions. That’s change!

  • 44 ray // Jan 28, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Chris —

    Im staying cynical about Obama for I know that he is backed by the same forces that backed Bushie… He will not reign in the Empire, he will not cut military spending or any other type of spending and he will not “take on” the Federal Reserve which is the monster that has allowed our freedoms to be taken from us.

    But the biggest problem with your poem is in your depiction of Lincoln, referencing his message of freedom, nothing could be further from the truth!!!! Its not too easy to get to the truth about Lincoln because The State has propaganda’d him to death, but simple truth of the matter is that Lincoln Overthrew our states rights to self govern! The GREAT idea of the United States; was that the Union was voluntary; this was a very progressive enlightened & empowering idea that Lincoln violently & mercilessly destroyed. Previously in the History of the world peoples were governed by Emporers and these people had no rights, they could be killed on the spot, they were commodities controlled by the emporer.. Then in Europe the Feudal system arose where serfs still had little if any rights but they at least had the right to there own body. Kings were no doubt ruthless but the trend was toward more individual freedoms. Then came the Revolution ary War and the US Constitution which had to be ratified by each state… This was the crowning acheivement of mankind! Power was being de-centralized and The People were getting more and more rights… Lincoln destroyed this and more… The Civil War was not Civil… Lincoln by his orders had Northern deserters killed by the hundreds… and the destruction of the South was thorough and complete…Women & Children were killed under his Generals with his approval.. The south was burned; The Union for all intents and purposes was destroyed too.

  • 45 Meredith Self // Feb 3, 2009 at 7:51 am

    cynicism protects us.

    but crystal heart protects and serves.

    thanks for this beautiful, raw capture of the sentiment i felt down at the capitol that day.

  • 46 Connie M // Feb 18, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Didn`t you know? Most of the Moores are cynical. Good thoughts!!!!!!

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