For the past two years I have experienced, like so many of us, wide mood swings taking me from righteous indignation, disgust and outrage on one side to patience, perseverance and suffering on the other.
As we approach the mid-term elections on November 6, both extremes have filled me up.
On Sunday this past week, my family and I attended a 2000-person packed auditorium at the Culver City High School to hear Pete Souza, the personal photographer of President Obama (he is promoting a new book of photographs of the President called “Shade – A Tale of Two Presidents”). Most everyone in the hall was supportive and relived with sweet nostalgia, joy and longing the eight years of the Obama presidency.
Pete took us down memory lane and showed us many of his memorable candid photos of Obama (he took 1.9 million photographs during Obama’s eight-year term). Taken all together these photos reveal the humanity, grace, intellect, vision, thoughtful and considered brilliance of the 44th President.
Pete contrasted the current occupant of the White House with the man he respects and loves so deeply. Not once, as I can recall, did Pete mention the name of the current White House occupant – he referred to him several times as “that guy.” Only in hindsight did it occur to me that his not saying the President’s name was deliberate, that should he have done so would have dirtied his speech.
As November 6 approaches I have been remarkably impatient, short-tempered and excruciatingly worried. I don’t know the outcome to this crucial mid-term election, whether the Democrats will take back the House of Representatives or not (I don’t expect the Senate to change hands). No one knows what will happen and where we’ll be on November 7.
President Obama was right yesterday when he said to a crowd in Nevada as he campaigned that this is the most important election in our lifetime because it will determine the state of our democracy going forward at least over the next two years. All we can do is to be certain that everyone we know votes, especially in swing House districts and purple states.
Rainer Maria Rilke, the Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist (1875-1926), offered the following wisdom about living patiently:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
I hope that on November 7 we will live the answer so many of us yearn to know.