Four Years and Four Days
Many months have passed since I added content to my personal internet time capsule. I’ve had plenty to say. Lots of conversation and ranting in the real world, but putting anything worthy down for record seemed fruitless. What was I going to say about a global pandemic and American civil unrest that wasn’t already being said? That I was scared for the future of our country and our world, like so many others? That living in a city where there were some actual riots (though 99% of the “so-called” riots were peaceful protests) over a young woman COMPLETELY UNDESERVEDLY having been killed by police in her own home, and hearing police helicopters over my house at night, was surreal? That dealing with any of the rest of humanity’s problems seems pointless when Mother Nature is gonna wipe us out anyway? That my general malaise was cranked up to eleven?
I wanted to put some thoughts down before the election, but couldn’t. I wanted to say something about race in this country, but anything sayable feels like shouting into an echo chamber. The people who understand hear and the people who refuse to believe refuse to believe. I wanted to tell everybody I finished writing a novel and was super excited about my effort during these desolate times. Talk about feeling inappropriate…
Then, last Saturday, it came together. After four years and four days, the path to victory for President-Elect Biden was clear. Please note, former VP Biden was not the progressive candidate I would have preferred, although I believe him to be a decent-hearted, well-meaning human being. I was not watching my candidate of choice nor my particularly preferred VP candidate speak, though I certainly have nothing against Kamala Harris. And I only mention this ticket not being my personal favorites for a specific reason, but I’m going to sidetrack this point and will circle back.
I’m a cis-gendered straight white male of a generation whose progressives spent our youth telling everyone NOT to label us. That’s a hint there, folks, that I’m at least middle-aged. The reason I admit to my age and Caucasian male devilry, is because I understand that at the end of the day, in this country, I am the least effected by all the tumult. I lost my job and have been fine. I also have no children, so I have no fear of their future. I’m also phenomenal at judicious self-medication, so I can flip the switch to “numb” on a daily basis and take my white ass to bed.
Yet, last Saturday night, watching two people who weren’t my preferred choices, I found myself on the verge of tears on multiple occasions. The first lump in my throat came during Kamala’s speech. It wasn’t her words, simply watching her speak and imagining not only being a person of color, but any woman in this country. Any young girl that can look up and realize that could be her someday, and that by the time said young girl has grown into an adult, she will be the head of the ticket.
Then Joe Biden spoke, and the lump in my throat returned several times throughout his speech. I wondered to myself, how can anyone listen to this man plead with everyone to stop being so goddamn mean to one another, and not appreciate this message? The answers are legion, of course, and I don’t need to list examples here. This writing is not about all the problems we face.
This writing is about four years and four days of wide-awake and sub-conscious disquiet. Anxiety. Sadness. Disillusion. Confusion. All these emotions, wildly intensified by empathy during a four year stretch like nothing I’ve experienced in my life. I believe myself to be an introspective person who remains in the present effectively, and therefore, connected to my present emotional state. I can honestly say, I could never have quantified the level of emotional exhaustion the last four years had cultivated in me, until last Saturday, when I saw a message of peace and a glimmer of renewed hope.
And remember, I’m a white dude. I wish it didn’t matter, but it does. I didn’t come from money or anything like that, but I still understand my privilege, and if I felt the way I did the other night, I can only imagine what it felt like to be someone from a marginalized community. To have suffered the true levels of disenfranchisement this country offers. I can only imagine, but I do. Empathy. Something this country needs right now more than ever, and something I believe the two humans I saw on stage last Saturday night both possess.
Of course, the fight isn’t over. It never is. But after four years and four days, at least for a moment, there was a deeply needed sigh of relief and renewed since of optimism.
Onward. Head down, feet forward.
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