As I was leaving work on Saturday night I was thinking to myself about blog posts that are overdue. To be honest, some part of me feels like whatever I say is a repeat of whatever anyone else says, but perhaps writing these things down is as much for my own sake as for anyone who happens to still be out there.
And then for dinner, Dad and I got take-out from our favorite Chinese restaurant. (It's a little thing, but my Dad is really tickled that the owner, Chinese, comes out from the kitchen and is always so happy to see my dad, Japanese. In some circles, the Japanese are still being held responsible for their war crimes against the Chinese; my dad famously cites the example of a schoolmate of my sister who was not allowed to play with my sister because we were Japanese). After dinner, I opened my fortune cookie.
It brought home what I've been thinking about a lot - namely, how do I personally respond and live my own life, regardless of what is going on at the state or national or international level?
Can you believe that election day is nearly upon us? Are you wrestling like I am with anxiety, hope, exhaustion... and any other emotions that run the rollercoaster gamut from high to low? I don't mean to be naive, perhaps this is just a function of the optimist that I am, but I'm feeling pretty calm. Don't get me wrong, I have serious concerns about how the world will be if Mitt Romney becomes President. I truly believe that he will plunder the wealth of this country (our human AND natural resources), that he is both unChristian and unAmerican and totally unfit to be President. I think that the United States, and the entire world, would be much better off with Barack Obama for President and I have no doubt that there will be lasting repercussions from the results of this race.
If Mitt Romeny wins, I will also have serious reservations about whether or not we have a functional democracy or if it has been completely sold off to those with the most money and if voter supression and tampering have managed to win out over my rosy-eyed view of the world.
And I don't at all mean to imply that
calmness equals complacency or confidence. At the same time, I have confidence in my own actions, certainty in the path that I have chosen (well aware that I have much to improve in my own life even as I am satisfied in the changes I have made over the course of the last four years).
I think maybe it helped to go see Forward Theater's 44 Plays for 44 Presidents. Perhaps a history lesson would be just as useful. In any event, it gave me a sense of larger history - even as we think that this moment and our lives are critical, so, too, have millions of people across hundreds of years. And somehow, life goes on. Maybe not exactly the way you thought it was going to but it goes on nonetheless. I also like to think of the British Empire, even the Roman one for that matter. There's no doubt those nations have had times of greater.. significance?... but I think that for someone living in any of those places right now, there is no more significant time. "All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well," right? (Julian of Norwich)
Yesterday morning a friend on Facebook posted this little gem, which I have seen before, but which is certainly apt. I have concerns about the sorrows and angers and fears that I see expressed and manifesting around me, and yet I also believe very strongly in creating and reacting to life out of love and hope and faith. I think that both Republicans and Democrats, and various other actors in our system, profit from playing upon our fears, exaccerbating the seriousness of the situation and getting us to respond to threats. I am not trying to diminish the seriousness of the situation, rather how we react to it.
evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on
inside all people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’
inside us all.
“One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow,
regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority,
lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
“The other is Good. It is
joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence,
empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.
”The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Also, I have returned to my own little home after a week of house-sitting. There are always perks to borrowing other peoples' lives, but, like travel, there is the best perk at the end, which is the reminder that you love your little life. And, little, in many senses it is. But I recently learned about this fundraising appeal from Kennedy Prints and am struck by many things - chief among them is my strong sense of optimism in the way that other people are creating their own versions of the American Dream, but doing so in ways that are mindful, connected, communal... and really cool. Ultimately, I think that is what is so threatening to the certain people (GOP politicians among them) - they see the world that they know it, the world they have prospered in, is changing, perhaps they view it as under attack. But however hard they try to fight it, I have every confidence that the change in inevitable. This is a difficult time of transition, but I have confidence in our spirits, our strengths and our creativity. As a person who often bemoans the lack of creativity in the world, and the way the corporate world seems to stifle the individual, new movement in individual- and business- and community-building is imminently cheering. But what has stuck with me the most this week is the words that were shared on the fundraising page: It's not about being so big that you have to maintain your bigness, it's
about being just big enough that your craft can maintain you.
Wow. Just sit with that a little while. As much as I complain about square footage at the shop, I do also feel like there has been a very American drive to get big, bigger, bigger... and to do so without much thought as to why. We are paying a price for that unrelenting drive, but many of us are starting to look at other measures of success and growth. This quotation, I feel, is perfect, because it implores us to look at our underlying goals - not to mindlessly aquire or grow just for the sake of bigness itself.
So to some extent, I think that I am weathering the campaign storm and the pre-election jitters by thinking small. Thinking of my little world, the things that are within my control, my gratitudes and my own riches.
I have to admit that I've been kind of rationing the number of articles I read and links I click through. It gets a little overwhelming at times, and I do believe there is fear-mongering happening from all sides. But I appreciate the words of other people, especially those who might fit into one category in my head, but whose words cause me to put them into another category. Case in point is Badger Blue, Times Two, "full time detective and SWAT cop": "I
will end with this thought: patriotism is more than declaring your love
for your country. It means electing leaders whose actions match their
words. It means choosing stewards of our society that care for all of
its citizens, not a select few. It means valuing the ideals of shared
sacrifice and prosperity that made this nation great. It means
rejecting those who view the citizens of this nation in terms of profit
potential. In this week before the election, my individual sense of
patriotism compels me to cast my vote for President Obama. I may not be
in the majority among police and military circles, but I certainly have
quite a bit more company than I did four years ago." I love that guy! And the works of OccupyMarines, who give me hope in the ways that we as citizens of this nation and of the world can find common ground and work together.
I am grateful that I have my church background, though going to yoga would also be helpful - sitting still, taking deep breaths, stretching, reaching. For me, my church home is a reminder of the way that I am both connected and important, and yet also in a world that is so much bigger and beyond me - it terms of its marvels and its troubles. It is also a reminder of a sense of gratitude, of all that our lives are blessed with and the ways that others are not. And, no, I'm not demanding that you go to church, just that I do believe there is a sense of grounding which I have as a result, which I am especially grateful for during this challenging campaign season.
At work, I have my share of little comforts. I'm easy that way, just show me a few inspiring quotations and I'll be good. And, of course, there are buttons to be made. Sachi has a new series of Bruce & Barack buttons in honor of Monday's visit. I have a little sense of just...waiting... What kind of buttons will we be making on Wednesday?! The "deep breath on the edge of battle/calm before the storm" kind of feeling.
Oh yeah, and I watched The Lord of the Rings last night. That always helps me.