OK. I Voted. Now What?
I did it. I masked up. I went to my local precinct with my wife and son (who just turned 18 today!). I voted.
Now comes the hard part. The waiting. I feel it in my muscles, in my back, in my shoulders. Everything’s a bit tight. I’ve thought about what the results of this election mean, how important they are. Yes, they matter.
I learned what presidential elections mean, when Barack Obama won the 2008 election by such an overwhelming margin. Then, I felt hope. It didn’t matter what he would or wouldn’t accomplish in that seat, I felt hope. I felt inspired and connected to a country on its way to incredible progress and evolution.
When Donald Trump won the 2016 election, I felt hurt. I felt like the people in this country weren’t who I thought they were. Maybe I was naive before, but that election… jaded me. How could so many people support someone who so openly speaks with hatred and racism toward entire peoples and places and spaces? To shake things up? Run it like a business? Really? That’s enough reason for you to support an unfeeling, unrelenting, amoral narcissist? Cool.
(I could add a video of Trump’s acceptance speech here but I don’t want to so I won’t.)
Well, here we are again. Now that I’ve voted, now that I’ve made my decision about who I want to see in the seats that have a direct impact over the policies and direction of my state and my country, I feel something again. This time I feel anxious. I just want to know.
Good or bad. I just want to know.
But I may not know anytime soon. The unprecedented (and necessary) shift to more mail-in voters means the timeline will look different this year. Once again, this year hits different. This year should have revealed how broken we are, enough to inspire revolution. It should have shown us the importance of a steady hand, an empathetic heart and an inspiring voice in leadership. We didn’t have that and it shows. Yet, this election is still in question. We’re still uncertain whether new leaders will step in, whether we will get another four years of what we are getting now.
Look. Either way. I just want to know.
But I have to wait.
While I’m doing that, I’ll be taking care of myself. I’ll get lost in an Akira Karosawa film. I’ll play Little Nightmares. I’ll smoke a hookah with my wife. I’ll watch Attack on Titan with my oldest son. I’ll read The Last Kids on Earth to my younger kids. I’ll read Dune to myself (I guess we’re big on dystopian sci-fi in the Paicely household). I’ll try and memorize Isaiah 26:3. I’ll record an episode of our fun podcast about movies. I’ll make some more short films with my friends and family. I’ll center myself in a place of creative peace and find ways to keep my energy and spirits high.
I have to.
I will also speak truth to power. Yes, I will protest when I feel the need to, but it is not all I will do. I will also write things like what you’re reading right now, that speak to the experience, anxiety and stress we feel in this moment—perhaps to find solidarity and unity in the face of pain. I will also use my local relationships to connect with mission-aligned coalitions so I can be a part of transformative change. Should the coalition I seek not exist, I will help create it, because no matter who wins these elections those winners cannot presume they will stop hearing the voices of the marginalized. I’ll support legislation that moves toward equity and fairness. I will also consider what role I must play in tearing down oppressive systems and structures that made this moment, this year, the cluster you-know-what that it was.
I have to.
I voted. In truth, while that is something of which to be proud, it is also the least I could do in moving the needle. Now comes the work and action, regardless of who our president, senator, representative, states attorney or judge is.
That’s what we do now. Take care of ourselves. Find our center. Take a breath. Then take care of business, whatever that looks like.