Dear Mr. President,
Tonight I had an unusual group of friends over who mixed surprisingly well. As I watched them from my (admittedly, slightly tipsy) view on the living room floor, I felt the happiness that usually sets in when I've spent an entire day panicking about something that has finally come to pass. There was enough food. People seemed to like the food. My room was still messy but not completely shameful. My gracious roommates, who has been warned that I'd be having a couple of people over, were not upset when almost ten showed up. One particularly appreciated guest even helped with the dishes. For all of my rushing around and worrying all day, things went better than I'd ever have guessed.
My friends are lovely people, each of them uniquely intelligent, and sensitive, and fascinating. Some I've known forever, others I'm only just discovering, and still I can't hear enough of their stories. Being able to work and associate with people who constantly interest and challenge me is one area in my life that I'm constantly grateful for. I suppose there is something to be said for the argument that all people have stories, talents, intelligence; it is possible that I could invite any random assortment of humanity and find something to learn from and something in common with any of them. But I like to imagine my friends are particularly special in their own ways.
I often worry that I do not learn enough, and especially that I do not learn fast enough. I could spend months or years getting to know the people I had dinner with tonight, and that's just a handful of the people I want to understand. Similarly, I could spend a lifetime studying the Middle East and it is just one region of a whole world I want to learn about. The thrill of appreciating just how overwhelming a task life can be is one I never cease to enjoy. (Though it does make me seriously wonder if Eric might be right about how much time I waste re-reading books.) I wonder if this is analogous to the feeling of leading the country. You hear from 10,000 individuals every day, and you'll never have time to know or contact or help all of them. You've got more than a dozen issues you could devote your presidency to and never fully solve. It's exciting and frustrating and awe-inspiring on a scale I'll likely never experience.
I think this is why I write you. You'll never know me, really, but if you somehow manage to read one of my letters, you'll know enough. And I'm sure that each of us 10,000 is interesting in our own way, but you've got enough people to worry about understanding, and way worse problems than a dinner party. I hope that you have moments like these, where, instead of being overwhelmed by it, you just stand back and appreciate the beauty of it all.