(Painting by Staten Island artist Scott LoBaido who can be seen in the newly released documentary Color Bearers )
I don't like to talk politics in public, however I am a huge advocate of voting. And on this overcast Election Day, I bring you a parable in the format of my day today. I should have voted first thing in the morning, but I was afraid of being late to work (yes, teachers need to be at work on Election Day, AND we can't vote in our school)--which was pointless because most people trailed in at least a half-hour late (grr). Thus, I had anxiety all day as I was thwarted from doing the one thing I really NEEDED to do all day. I battled a day of meetings, two suicidal squirrels, three people cutting me off in extremely stupid ways/terrible conditions, terrible service at a local diner which made us late to our first batch of afternoon meetings, picking up my mom (this was not a good thing), listening to her laugh at my weight while I made an appointment for a catscan, got six shots in my arms, had an anxiety attack that resulted in a hive on my lip, a trip to Costco to get my mom pound cake, running home to pick up laundry, dropping her off and making sure the dogs went to the bathroom, and then FINALLY, my moment of zen inside the ballot box....but NO, for some reason my information was missing since I have moved three times (officially), there was a whole debacle happening about the #246, my sweat and anxiety mounting, I was given a write in ballot...so my vote was finally casted and I felt relief--once I heard the write-ins WOULD be counted TONIGHT. All of the latter occurred while knowing I still had to do my laundry, tutor my niece in math, plan lessons, and find a peaceful place inside to distract me from the itching and burning of my two arms-- I calculated that I will have approximately 284 shots in my arms in the process of a year--but I digress. NONE OF THE ABOVE MATTERED more to me than getting my vote out. I am not the idealist that thinks my one vote will make or break an election, but in many ways, my participation in my country is akin to a religious experience. There is that moment in the ballot box that feels like walking into a confessional. My secrets stay in there, my vote of faith cast, and I leave with fingers crossed. As people we never know if we make the right decisions. I hope that what each of us inevitably decide comes from our heart, or at least from our educated minds. In the end, we can only hope that whether who we want to win does or not, that the person who does end up in charge of our beautiful country, treats it as delicately and with as much thought and care as some of us do when we perform our small acts of participation. Even though both politics and religion are such hot topics, I am starting to see them both as deeply personal experiences that we all have, thus making them communal and universal. Some people think their vote doesn't count, just like some people deny the existence of a higher power. I can't say I have any absolutes, but somewhere in my heart I just believe, and I try to act on those beliefs in the most altruistic way I can. SO, to ALL OF YOU who are active participants in life, who make informed choices (even if that means just the information that the cosmos gives you)-- I say BLESS you...and not necessarily in a religious sense...kind of like when a student in my class coughs in my presence (or even burps) I say 'bless you', and they say, ' I didn't sneeze', my usual retort is, "SO?"
(Me enjoying/squishing the Capitol--picture from 2005)--forgive my "DUH" expression!