Many of you know that a few years back I had a small cancer scare. As if there is such a thing.
I got off easy. We caught the bladder cancer small and early. It was removed with a brief outpatient procedure—like a polyp in a colonoscopy—and I didn’t even need chemo or radiation.
We remain vigilant, with screenings every six months at first and now once a year. Truth be told, I hate those screenings, but it is a small price to pay to try to stick around a little longer.
For the most part, I am able to put those screenings out of my mind throughout the year and go about living life and doing the things that need to be done. But a few days before each scheduled screening, the questions start creeping into my mind. Little bits of anxiety that make me wonder what’s waiting just around the corner.
As I write this blog the Sunday night leading into election Tuesday, I am noticing some familiar emotions.
In those days leading up to a screening, there is a simmering, but inescapable sense of dread. What if…
There’s every chance that things will be fine. But also, there is a chance they might not be. And all you can do is wait.
That’s the thing I’m worst at…waiting. Present me with a situation…good, bad or horrific, and I can grapple with it, spring into action and find a path forward. But the netherworld of waiting? I’m not so good at that. I don’t know what to do.
There’s a sense of powerlessness leading up to those screenings. There’s not much to do but wait for the minutes and hours to pass until the screening date and then hope for the good news, but steel yourself for the bad.
You can do all the things you oughta do to live a healthy life, but at the end of the day, the doctor can still deliver news you don’t want to hear, and there’s very little you can do about that.
So there’s a little bit of helpless. There’s a little bit of dread leading into this next week. There’s a sense of gravity around this election that I haven’t felt before. But there is also hope. There is always hope.
I hope we can be patient. The decision may be slow this year. Mail-in ballots. Legal challenges. Recounts. We can expect them all this time around and it will delay the final decision. We know I’m bad at waiting, but I will tell myself to be patient. I hope you will as well.
I hope we can live with the results. Our country has a long history of peaceful transitions of power. It is unique in the world. I hope that tradition will prevail and whoever finds themselves in office will become the president of all the people.
I hope we can find a better path forward. This election has been contentious and emotions have run high. I started A Peace of My Mind a decade ago because I was worried about the polarized rhetoric in the world. Things have not improved since then. I hope that our enthusiasm for division will fade away and a sense of unity will return.
I hope we will learn that we are our own best answer. Make no mistake, I have strong opinions in this election. I voted more than a month ago, before I left my home state of Minnesota, because I wanted my voice to be heard. But no matter who sits in the Oval Office, I am in charge of how I live and work in the world. No matter who wins, I will commit to bridging divides and building community.
Of course I want a president who shares my values for the common good. But I won’t wait for leadership from that office to get to work. That office can’t control how I treat my neighbors. That office can’t determine how I respond to those around me.
Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been focused on two simple ideas…that we are all more vulnerable than we ever imagined…and we are all more connected than we ever knew…I hope we can remember that.