At the polls this morning, I was standing in the cold line outside and slowly inching forward towards the doors to go stand in line inside. There was a group of 3 people struggling to put up an EZup in the dark, I’m guessing for a campaign table, but it was too early to tell.

Those of us in line watched them struggle, and one person commented under her breath that they needed to pull it out farther before trying to push up the top.  I noticed myself think, “they could use some help, and we’re all just standing here”.  I also noticed myself think, “I wonder which candidate they’re supporting”, before I called bullshit on myself and jogged over to offer the 13 seconds of 4th person help it took to get them past the awful stage of raising any EZup.

I took my place in line again, and we waited in the dark, taking shuffle steps forward towards the doors every 20 seconds, sharing space, sharing oxygen, sharing the experience of standing in line with our complex feelings about this day and this election, inching towards our chance to put our drop in the collective bucket of opinions… and the line was silent, each person in their own mental bubble.

Maybe the silence was just a symptom of a general feeling of dread weighing on all of us, no matter which side we’re on.  But I think it’s more than that, and I think it’s at the heart of our struggle as a country right now: we’re too comfortable in our isolation from each other.   It feels safer to keep to ourselves in a group of strangers, but actually it’s the most dangerous thing of all.  Connection is what keeps us safe.  Isolation breeds assumptions, fear, and mistrust.

So in addition to voting against a man who seems devoted to breeding fear and mistrust, my offering to humanity today was to connect with the strangers in line around me.  I asked if they had been to this polling place before (which almost sounded like a weird pickup line), and if the line was usually this long.  One woman said she hoped the line moved quickly, because she needed to get to work by 7.  I asked her where she worked, and we chatted about her job and what she liked about it.  Nothing very personal, and definitely not political.  But engaged.

This is my vision for how we move forward, no matter who gets elected today: connecting with the people around us, honoring each other as humans trying to live our lives.  Being curious, and listening, when we don’t understand.  Remembering that we’re sharing space, sharing oxygen, and sharing the experience of being complicated and imperfect humans.  I’m holding all of us with love today, as we shuffle forward together.

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