Note to you, my friends – this post contains some political opinions which may likely differ from yours. I respect yours; thank you in advance for respecting mine.
The night merged at some point with the morning, although I honestly can’t tell you at what point that happened. Yet here we are, 5:00 AM – the Sirs walked and fed, the sun preparing for its entrance stage right, and somewhere behind the clouds, the moon is tiredly anticipating some rest.
I’m over-caffeinated, over-tired, and my thoughts are a muddled reflection of both.
I alternated between watching our election returns and watching ‘The Crown’ on Netflix. Arguably one offset the disbelief that informed the other. I despair of the choice the US has made. It isn’t the despair associated with backing the losing candidate – one reaches a point in life where loss is not unfamiliar; rather something that winds its way around the soul, infusing it with a sense of dread, a shortening of breath that mimics a mild panic attack when one tries to determine what is going to happen next. I am not going to offer you chapter and verse of my concerns and/or fears – they matter little in a forum which precludes dialogue.
My mom told us that following Kristalnacht, my grandfather went to synagogue with the belief that what was needed was more prayer. Whether his assessment was right or wrong is not for any of us to say. He lost brothers and sisters in the Holocaust, my mother bore the internal scars of a survivor with a burden on her teen-age shoulders that was unfairly weighted. Yet, my grandfather, grandmother, mom and uncle made it here along with a few other relatives. Was it faith that got them here? Certainly, there were millions who perished who were equally righteous. Serendipity? Luck of the draw? I have no idea. I do know her reverence for this country, the way her eyes welled when she even mentioned Ellis Island – her belief that her life was to be lived for those who had not. She was a complicated woman; she was a woman of valor.
Her perception of her purpose for being was fraught with ambivalence. How the heck can an adolescent assume the responsibility for so many lost lives? How does an adult fully actuate when she identifies herself with such a legacy? Somehow it all got distilled into taking care of her family – and that was both a blessing and a burden, I think.
During one of the episodes of ‘The Crown’, the Queen Mum, still mourning the loss of her husband, her home (ok, Buckingham Palace isn’t exactly homey, but still…), reflects that these losses were deepened further by the loss of her purpose as a mother. Her girls were grown, their paths understandably not reflective of any maternal need. And so, she wonders what her purpose may be.
Switching back to the election results with tears spilling down my face…I’m identifying way too much. Here I sit, in a temporary house with and without Andy (he’s still working in VA), my sons fabulously grown, retired from a career which was defined by taking care of others and anticipating strategies for future success (within my purview). What is my purpose now? What is my place in a country in which I am not sure I am a part? We have done such a powerful job of alienating each other, pouring vitriol as gas on a flame. We have blamed and shaken fists, self-righteously proclaimed opinions with no regard for debate and conversation. We have been disrespectful and judgmental, narrowing the width and breadth of love for humankind, replacing it with some weird sense of superiority.
So, before I devolve into Alice when she was carried along by her own river of tears, I demand to know what am I doing here? What the hell is my purpose? Here’s my short answer – I’m here to chart a path where I can make a small impact (let me tell you how challenging it is to try and volunteer anywhere – no, better save that for another day), I’m here to show that there is more to this world than self-important excuses and justifications for things that are just not justifiable. I am here to love my family and small circle of friends to whatever degree they need that love. I am here to breathe deeply and try to blunt some of the painfully sharp edges that reflect our current narrative. One smile perhaps at a time, one genuine moment at a time. I’m here to grow really, really, really old (I pray reverently) and take up my small space with unflinching love. Even when I don’t see it. Just means I have to look harder. So world, I’m coming for you…after I take a nap.