Finally, I can take a breath. I've been so worked up over the past couple of weeks over all of the election stuff. I've been watching the news and talking heads and grooving on all of the information and guesswork like a junkie. If I woke up in the middle of the night, I'd think about it and wonder what the outcome would be. The cynical side of me didn't want to feel the strum of hope beating inside. I kept thinking that something would spoil it. It is terrible to have that glass-half-empty feeling, but I couldn't help it. Now the country has made a choice. A decisive choice. The David Bowie song Changes is playing through my mind, and I'm so excited. It is fascinating to be part of history. To feel like maybe there is hope for healing some of the racial divide and also hope for having some collaboration in our country. Instead of being constantly divided by fear, maybe we can all work together and put the country back on track. I'm just so completely optimistic that education now has a chance to flourish, maybe there will be a renaissance and renewed appreciation of the arts, innovation will rebound, and we'll see new and amazing things coming. About a year and a half ago, I remember telling one of my professors that I thought we needed someone inspirational to actually be a leader for change. For as long as I can remember, I wished that our country would shift focus and be proactive rather than reactive and fear-based. Maybe there is hope. It was inspiring to see long lines of people snaking around voting places and that people weren't crabby or throwing fits about it... they were excited and determined to vote. That was amazing as well. It never ceases to amaze me that so many people don't vote. I can understand the idea of thinking that your vote might not count as far as the presidential race (thanks to the antiquated electoral college), but still, it might count. And it definitely does on a state level. Ask any of those candidates in tight races where the difference between them is like 400 votes. Sheesh. Can you imagine?
The other interesting aspect of this is now that the election is over, I've heard so many people breathing a sigh of relief. It appears (as far as my co-workers go) that no one wanted to talk about the election for fear of being called out for what they believed. It is sad that a country once brimming with democracy had slipped into such a dark space where people were afraid to speak. The nice thing is that everyone seems to be okay with it. Even the people who voted for McCain in my office want to talk about it and have said that they are okay and just hope that things get better. Wow. What a huge thing.
Last night, we were at an election party, and I felt sort of silly for being emotional and for getting all teary-eyed. It *really* didn't help to have the cameras focusing on Jesse Jackson as he stood there, with tears of joy (and probably a little disbelief) streaming down his face (I always cry when I see other people crying). But today I am okay with it because I know that I wasn't the only one hit with a wave of emotion. It was also really cool to read the NYTimes.com site and see all of the comments from people throughout the world who were caught up in the excitement and hope for the future as well.
I may be overly optimistic and unrealistic about the struggles ahead, but at least I do have hope. And soon... GW will just be history. That is enough to make me smile.