Tonight I am watching the opening ceremonies to the Beijing Olympics. Normally I would not, although I did every Olympic year for most of my years. But now I am too pained by the constant commercials promoting brotherhood and world solidarity, and then selling me something, and the constant yabbering patter of Blab Costas. I see and appreciate the spectacle of beautiful fireworks and lighting displays, marvels of design and synchronized perfection. But it doesn't thrill me, and I can't help but think that underneath all of this lies the reality of grim politics and unseen Army men with eyes watching, guns ready. Everything changed after Munich, I think, as NBC shows a close up of the face of Shimon Peres.

But enough of that. I am watching because a good friend of the family, a school friend of my teen, is marching tonight in one of the bands, made up of some of the best young American musicians. It obviously is quite an honor for him to have been selected, and I hope to catch a glimpse of him: tall, long black wavy hair, mischievous face. Tonight he will be playing the trumpet, although he is such a natural musician that he can pick up and play anything well. I have no doubt that he will become a professional musician someday, as his parents are.

I try to imagine what this experience is like for him. I zoom my mind to that place, so very far away, so very strange. I imagine him in the heat, humidity, chaos, pollution, different smells, different sights, different everything. Seventeen years old, across the world, playing for the world. I imagine him in his costume, nervously standing amongst strangers, waiting to hear the call to start, hearing the music that goes before him. I imagine him bouncing up and down, shaking off the jitters, smiling, laughing, wide-eyed, taking it all in, grateful.

How glad I am that he is having this experience, and I send out lots of love and best wishes to him in China tonight. And I always hope that when we all have a chance to see the best, in music or athletics or whatever it may be, it can bring us together, even for a short, spectacular time.