How Are Your Post-Election Heart and Soul?

Photo Credit:GratiDude/iPhone

“59” winks on as I pass our smart thermostat. We keep the house cool at night for sleep and conserving energy. The number, hanging ghostlike and ephemeral in the dark room, reminds me that was the year my father died.

I once heard the notion that the year a man’s father dies is the most important one in his life.

A case could certainly be made for that. It’s hard to think of an event that more profoundly influenced my life, though other years could be candidates. Some examples — Birth of first child, divorce, remarriage, my son surviving a close brush with mortality, turning old enough to legally drink, climbing Denali, shinnying up that pole in the cellar and noticing a first erection (“Oh, my, I can do that whenever I want!”), eating pasta for the first time, earning Eagle Scout, getting my driver’s license, learning to read, or having the Red Sox win the World series for the first time in eighty six years.

None have cast a shadow quite as long as 1959.

However true that is, however fanciful or trivial the exercise, we do like to assign superlatives. Most important, the worst, the greatest of all time in sports (GOAT). We’ve been hearing for weeks that this past Tuesday was the most important American election of all time.

Whether about elections or erections, as I heard it put yesterday, there’s an inevitable summing up.

Now that this freshest “most important election” has come and gone, while we wait, how did we do?

For my part, at work I was musing on how to find a path through this. How to direct my thoughts productively beyond “How can this huge swath of America be so goddamn stupid?”

Not particularly aligned with “How we treat each other is the only thing that matters,” as I wrote about on Monday.

I saw “Comfort and joy” on a chocolate seasonal sampler, which got me singing, under my mask, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” for a short time.

I conjugated some Spanish irregular verbs.

I thought I could just follow the apostle Paul’s advice in the New Testament.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”

Then I scribbled in my little notebook, “SHOCK! I’m looking forward to Christmas and all the schmaltz and crap and fake trees. I don’t resent any of it, already in evidence in our store tastefully and places like Home Depot.” We need a little Christmas, I thought.

I remembered how I search the eastern heavens every morning for Venus and how it lifts my spirits to look up and beyond my transitory concerns.

Then I read Al Gore’s concession speech after the contentious 2000 (another “most important of all time”) election.

These words resonated especially —

“And I say to our fellow members of the world community: Let no one see this contest as a sign of American weakness. The strength of American democracy is shown most clearly through the difficulties it can overcome.

I’ve seen America in this campaign and I like what I see. It’s worth fighting for and that’s a fight I’ll never stop. “

Tom Friedman wrote that this speech contains the real secrets of America’s sauce. Reading it helped lift my angry and hurting American heart from judgment.

All lists of bests and worsts, notwithstanding, there is no debate whatsoever about the “most important” moment.

Right now.

It is all we ever will have.



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