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Friday, December 2, 2016

Postscript to the Previous Post

(See post below, first.) On the other hand, I think I will write a little more about the impact of the election on me and the people I love. The other, currently inaccessible, entry has more to do with political wonky stuff. This one has to do more with my psyche.

The morning after the election was a dark day: for me, for all 4-6 kids, for my friends. I’m not including Cheryl here because she was already upset even before the election. She was so unnerved by politics in general, and I believe the Presidential race in particular, and what politics was doing to her, that she didn’t even watch the election returns. This from a delegate to the Democratic Convention just 4 years earlier. She was depressed about the election many months before the rest of us came to be.

But as dark a day as it was, I found it to be the perfect time to re-order my priorities. This is part of what I wrote on my Facebook page the next day, part of a much longer post that is what the other post-election blog entry will consist of: “So it’s back to basics. Back to connecting with each other. Back to making people feel validated in their life’s choices. Back to volunteering to help those who need it, from the old widow down the street who needs the leaves raked in her yard to helping feed people who have less than us, to, well whatever might be one’s passion. What drives you? How can I help? How can I help my kids help? What can I do to put a smile on someone’s face?

"I find myself feeling like I did when I came back from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota a few months back. A need to re-focus on all that is good and most important. Re-prioritizing. So I learned that then…and apparently needed to be taught it again last night. I get it, God. No need to keep finding ways to beat it into me! I’m good. Thanks, though!”
And so since I wrote that, almost 4 weeks ago, how am I holding to it? I see it as a strong challenge to my Quaker beliefs – am I still able to see that of God in everyone, even supporters/voters/enablers of someone to run the world who has said and done the terrible things DT has? I need to, I have to, and so far I have.

I want to walk ever more peacefully upon this earth, with my family, with my friends, but in some ways even more importantly, with people I don’t know and may well never see or interact with again – the receptionist at the doctor’s office, the driver who cut me off, the person who posts something demeaning on Facebook.

And how can it be more important that I treat people I don’t know, as or more kindly than my family and friends? Because my F & Fs are already wonderful, loving, FORGIVING (of me) people. It is the people we don’t know who we need to set a higher standard for, both in how we deal with them but also in our expectations of them. I need to do my best to bring the best out of them.  That means driving more slowly, though certainly not too slowly! It means not just thanking someone for something, but taking an extra two seconds to throw them a smile – a smile that lasts past that fleeting second that goes with the thank you.
This actually happened with me a few days back, at the aforementioned doctor’s office. After I finished checking out – paying, getting a printout for bloodwork – I thanked the woman behind the counter, smiled, and just held it for an extra moment, while looking carefully into her eyes. And even though I’m quite certain that if that woman came up and sat next to me this very moment, I’d have no idea who she was, for that brief moment, I felt like I had a significant, kind human interaction with her. I don’t know if it had any impact on her day, but the return of her smile certainly made mine.

And that’s what I expect of me going forward. Not to dwell in the ugly negativity it would be so easy to slather myself with in the face of what happened November 8th. But to use it as the proverbial wake-up call, challenging and changing my previous perspective, making the world a better, more positive, kinder, more loving place.

As clearly as it seems that 2016 has been one of our worst ever. I want the lessons I’ve learned, starting with Pine Ridge and continuing through the election results, to make 2016 the best year ever.

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