‘Eyes On The Prize’

All day yesterday, it felt as if I were making my way through a fog, my path unclear and my intentions hard to remember. From the mundane chore of making my morning coffee through the equally mundane chores of washing and drying quilts, blankets and throws in preparation for the winter, I struggled to be present. The day seemed gray, and I struggled with a nearly unique admixture of emotions: sorrow, anger, and fear.

I could remember only two other occasions in my life when I’d felt that combination of emotions: September 11, 2001, when the terrorists of Al Qaida attacked the United States, and a weekday in the spring of 1988, the day after I’d learned that a love interest had decided not to leave a distant city and join me and my life in Minot, North Dakota. (That latter day’s stew of emotions was made up primarily of grief although anger and fear were present.)

My malaise was sparked, of course, by the results of Tuesday’s election. I sat that evening watching the news roll in with increasing dismay, wondering both how could the polls and poll compilers have so badly interpreted the data they’d collected and how nearly sixty millions of my fellow citizens could have such a vastly different view than I do of the man they have chosen to be our president.

I expect to find the answer to the first question relatively soon. I imagine it has something to do with a perfect storm of unanticipated voters and margins of error. (I have seen speculation by friends that other, far less benign reasons, such as foreign intervention, exist; if that speculation ever leads to hard data, that would seem to me to be prima facie evidence of an act of war.)

As to the second question that plagued me as I switched my television from network to network Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning, I have come no closer in the last thirty-six hours to understanding how, to repeat my own words, “nearly sixty millions of my fellow citizens could have such a vastly different view than I do of the man they have chosen to be our president.” I am not certain today that I will ever understand.

So I have grave concerns about the direction our nation will take come next January. I fear for those who are poor, for those who are disabled, for immigrants, for children, and for all those who live in the margins of this culture and thus lead lives far different than those of the people who will be making decisions about those lives. I fear for the hard-won rights of women, of the LGBTQ community, of people of color, and of people of those faiths that have become targets for discrimination and violence. I fear what I perceive in those who will govern us as an eagerness for more and larger wars. And I fear that the country that I love will become changed beyond recognition by those who will next govern it and their supporters.

In the meantime, as more than one of my friends on Facebook noted yesterday, we have lives to lead, family and friends to attend to, and tasks at hand. Once the winter covers were washed, dried and folded (the neat piles of warm laundry, stacked on the window seat in the dining room and on the bed upstairs, unsurprisingly became sleeping spots for all three cats), and once the Texas Gal was home from work, I had a dinner to cook.

“I already know,” I wrote on Facebook, “what the playlist is going to be: Bruce and nothing but Bruce. The Boss and the E Street Band (and the Seeger Sessions Band, too) help me get centered like almost nothing else.”

And although it did not come up during the forty or so minutes when the iPod kept me company in the kitchen last night, one track from Bruce Springsteen & The Seeger Sessions Band seems appropriate for this space this morning, given the massive challenges I see arising from the results of Tuesday’s election. Here, from the 2006 album We Shall Overcome, is “Eyes On The Prize.”

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