Patience may be a virtue, but it is not one of my core strengths.
I’m programmed for decisive action. I process and synthesize information quickly, make prompt decisions, and then stride purposefully in my chosen direction. I’ll be the first to admit that this approach to life is not without its missteps (cough, my marriage, cough), but it’s just how I’m wired.
I couldn’t write a column last week. My submission deadline is Wednesdays for Friday’s paper and last Wednesday the entire world was in limbo, waiting for the outcome of the presidential election. I had no words while I waited. It was too soon to write about the election, but writing about anything else felt absurd when so much of my energy was focused on this one thing.
The waiting was brutal. I cried at 5am on November 4th when I woke up and looked at my phone and saw which states were leaning red. I spent the day refreshing my browser like a maniac, hopping from site to site, hungry for new information. Then one day became two, became three.
The vote totals trickled in and with each new upload of information, victory crept just a little bit closer. But not close enough to celebrate. Not quite. The magic threshold remained elusive, even as the gap in the popular vote continued to widen. And still, we waited.
Three things kept me sane during those long days of counting.
Number one: humor. Look, I realize that social media is a dumpster fire much of the time. Maybe even most of the time. But I am here to tell you that the memes about the vote counting were a lifeline for my sanity. Did you see the video of the tiny t-ball player (captioned Nevada) pretending to run in slow motion for home plate, while his coach (captioned America) tries in vain to hurry him along? It was brilliant. Or the Avengers homage to mail-in ballots? Genius, I tell you.
Number two: children. Kids excel at distraction. At first, they were eager to watch CNN with me. My oldest daughter is now a full-on fangirl to John King and his magic map. I’m very proud. But they pretty quickly lost interest in the talking heads and insisted we turn off the TV and play games instead. We may have been waiting on the future of America, but the kids still wanted to eat dinner, watch movies, and celebrate my birthday. Go figure.
Number three: art. I holed up in my studio for hours, working on mosaics while half-watching CNN. Most of the work was commissioned, with owners waiting, but one piece I’ll keep. It is a small snail with a blue shell. I created it in honor of Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Nevada. It took a while, but eventually the blue showed up.
My favorite children’s book author is Mo Willems. He has a delightful series of books about Elephant and Piggie, two best friends who charmingly convey life lessons through simple illustrations and whimsical stories. One book is appropriately titled “Waiting Is Not Easy.” In it, Piggie has promised Gerald the Elephant a wonderful surprise, but he must wait for it. Gerald just about loses his danged mind – oscillating from eager anticipation to righteous temper tantrums to dejected moaning – before finally receiving his surprise. Which is totally worth the wait, of course.
I have never related more completely to an elephant in my life.
This election season was long and hard. We laughed, we cried, we moaned dejectedly. But in the end, the wait was totally worth it.