My dad, a staunch Democrat, was born on Nov 4, 1925, so his birthday always coincided with an election.
This was the first Election Day without him and I could not have missed more.
Throughout his life, there were many election-themed parties with hats, buttons, and speeches, at least one of which was a Plesent for President extravaganza.
My father used to boast that he voted in every election for 75 years, including the insignificant ones, which were nonexistent for him.
It never ceased to amaze me that regardless of the results, even when a candidate he endorsed was trounced, he remained hopeful. Like Joe Biden, he would have been jubilant this week, paying tribute to those who campaigned so hard in the name of civility, freedom, and equality. He would have been ecstatic that we took the Senate.
I have relied all my life on his exuberance, patriotism, and optimism.
I wish he was here to see what could be a turning of the tides; the swinging back to a world with a modicum of sanity.
Waiting for results, while many of us were nervous, even pessimistic, he would not have lost faith. He would have convinced me of the power of this moment, the importance of getting involved in the political process, speaking up for the under-represented, and working towards a world built on decency and fairness.
He would know the names of all the people elected and share the details of their inspiring stories.
He would raise his fist and shout, “we did it!”, with a big knowing grin on his face.
He would have focused on the wins, not the losses; the victories, not the defeats.
He would not have sullied the experience by bemoaning the fact that we lost the House and that the country is still divided.
Growing up, I always wondered how it was that he never seemed rattled by life, despite very real obstacles.
There was a Buddha quality about him that was inspiring and yet a bit incongruous given his lack of religious beliefs.
Simply put, my dad knew who he was and lived accordingly.
The quote from Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison resonates:
“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free”.
While it is somewhat of a mystery to me how he discovered who he was at such a young age, it makes perfect sense that the clarity sourced the contentment which marked his entire life.
Dad was a stellar example that inner freedom is possible when you live according to your values.
We need to regularly take stock of whether we are living consistently with the values that really define us.
When something is not working in our lives; whether personally or professionally, it’s likely that a value we hold dear is not being honored.
By doing an internal check of what our deeply held values are and being guided by them, we can avoid inner conflict and disconnection.
In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.”
Her quote is particularly powerful because it reminds us that we actually have an obligation to be truly ourselves. When we exercise a right like voting, we feel empowered. When we recognize that right as an obligation, we can feel confident, in touch with who we really are, and proud of our contribution to society.
Take time today and contemplate who you are at your core; what you believe and what qualities inspire you.
Consider someone you respect and the values they live by. Is there a more peaceful aura around someone who is clear about who he is? I believe so. When we are fighting to be someone we are not or trying to fit into a box that doesn't fit, there's angst, ambivalence, guilt, and often, sadness.
Choose to move in the direction of authenticity by being clear about what really matters to you.
Heed the wisdom of Marcus Aurelius: “He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.”
In a way, we vote every day; we vote for who we want to associate with, what is worth our time, and who we want to be.
Cast a vote for the real you. Inner peace becomes possible when we do. With love and light,