The dawn came predictably, reliably, as it has each day for millennia. The same 12 numbers were on the clock and the hands rotated around as they do. The traffic lights on the way to work turned red and green and the traffic obeyed, stopping and going accordingly. My 8th graders showed up at 8:15 as they tend to do and we exchanged the ritual good mornings. Off they went to the instruments and 45 minutes later, we had nailed down the form to Django Reinhart’s Minor Swing and we are all happier people for it. Business as usual, routines in place, order in the universe, the gods in their heavens and all right with the world.
And yet today is not just any day and though, yes, I can swing too far to the dramatic in many situations, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that what happens in the next 12 hours or so can dramatically alter the face of the known world. Not just for the next four years but reaching as far to the possible end of the human experiment or the possible triumph that might allow for a sustainable future. Big stakes, indeed.
So I move through the day, some minutes blissfully unaware of the drama, some moments feeling its hands around my neck, my hope and despair playing ping-pong and me made dizzy from watching the game. I’m exhausted holding my breath and long to exhale. With the right result. I don’t believe I can breath through the next four years if the worst comes to pass.
Which way, America? Are we indeed mostly kind, fair, intelligent and understanding the difference between the clear black and white of right and wrong and aware of all the shades of grey in-between? It’s clear that millions share this country with me Who I’m proud to claim as fellow citizens and equally clear that millions more live here whose way of thinking—or lack of thinking—I try hard to understand, but find incomprehensible. Like my wife’s cousin, a man smart enough to be a dentist and kind and generous enough to give my daughter a break when she needed her wisdom teeth pulled in college—and even put her up in his home and gave her ice cream. How can it be so that someone of that caliber can be brainwashed to support a despicable human being not qualified to even be the dogcatcher? It boggles the mind.
Meanwhile. Breathe in. Breathe out. Have fun with the 5 year olds. Repeat.