Dear Boss, Co-Worker, Community Member, Friend, Family:
Today, we are all showing up carrying stuff. Feelings, emotions, and thoughts that have been swirling in us for months in this very long year have brought us relentlessly forward to this exact day: November 3, 2020, Election Day here in the United States of America.
The whole world is watching, holding its breath to see what happens. Today we go to work, go to school, go to the store, and do what we do, even as we carry the gravity and weight of this moment.
Some are afraid. Trembling and trying not to show it. The most afraid are likely those who will do what they do today worried that their black or brown son, their queer daughter, or their immigrant parent might be targeted for violence. These among us will anxiously try to stay focused while watching the minutes tick by until their shift or workday ends and they can gather their people and feel safer behind the doors of home. Maybe.
Some are hopeless. They have been struggling to make ends meet in this pandemic or have lost beloved ones to a virus, a fire, or a senseless act. They have tried to navigate their stress and grief, but the dark feelings linger: the funeral missed, the bills piling up, the future unknown. Each day they try to believe and to notice joy, but the grind is wearing them down.
Some are angry. They may not even know why they feel such pent-up resentment inside. They are ready to burst, disillusioned, frustrated, and feel unseen. It is too much. They believe what they believe and see others as on the other side of a battle that has no winners. They long for the way things were and mourn the past. They have been told that hate helps, but it doesn’t bring joy back.
Some are numb. The waves of trauma, fear, and bad news have hit them so often and so hard that they’ve had to flip a switch to close off and protect their hearts. If they let themselves feel, it might unleash a tidal wave of emotion so strong it might overtake them, so they just feel nothing. Policies and politics leave them confused and cold, kicked to the curb, and empty.
Some are unaware. Their privilege and wealth keep them thinking this is just politics and that it will pass without much effect on them. They are buffered by comfort and ease, hoping the unrest is over soon so they can get on with economics and daily life. They feel safe.
Some are anxious. They wake up feeling it and they go to bed feeling it. They had different plans for their life this year, and things have not worked out the way they thought. Their future is uncertain, their path unclear. They are working on college or a job via a laptop and they miss their friends, dating, and normal life rhythms. Everything feels stalled.
Many of us will carry bundles of all of these feelings, and more. Amidst these riptides of emotion, and while the world waits for this election to unfold, we will all show up today and do the next hard thing. We must.
Here is what I know:
Businesses that make a profit, but ruin communities, are wrong.
Policies and politics that benefit some people and harm others are unjust.
Leaders who are bad for people are toxic.
And, love is THE thing.
(Note: that last one matters most.)
We share the tender undercurrent of love that pulls at us all, whatever we carry into today. We share a whisper of memory that transcends time and catches us when we least expect it. We feel it in the glorious miracle of a birth, the aching loss after a last breath, the transcendent feeling of a touch when we most need it, the gift of being seen, and the knowing that comes when we feel less alone because someone is there.
We know it because we have laughed and cried in joy and because our hearts have been broken and lost. We share this. In the darkness of the night when cold seeps into our bones and it feels that the light of dawn will never come, we are the same.
Many years ago, as a young mother, dumb with sleep deprivation and bone crushing fatigue, I remember that feeling that used to overtake me whenever I watched one of my children sleeping and smelled them, warm and alive. Then, I felt the most full-up. I felt breathtaking joy. I felt I knew my why. In that very same instant of brilliant love, I also felt deeply aware of the danger of such a gift: the end was unknown. I remember the ache of that knowledge.
Today, we all live in that intersection of the hope we harbor and the loss we fear.
We show up. We do hard things. We move forward, one step, one look, one word at a time.
Remember what people are carrying today and offer compassion, patience, and presence.
This I know for sure…wherever we go, we go together.