This morning, after I dropped my son off in his classroom at school, I was stopped by someone who wanted to tell me how kind she felt he is. More than a random bit of flattery, it was a considered and perceptive description of the boy I know – an authentic compliment that gave me a little extra insight into the way he reaches out to other kids. She punctuated it with “And he chooses his words for other children with such thoughtfulness. What a joy he is.”
I was disarmed. I cried and I thanked her and blathered something or other about how he seemed to have come to the world that way.
What she said and did in a minute and a half was such a kindness to me and to him. And it was as simple as it was extraordinarily powerful. She made herself a witness to something beautiful in his character and shared it. What a gift.
And so I began Election Day, which is so often fraught with anxiety and obsessive thinking for me, with my heart all pried open. Directly afterwards, I meditated with friends in observance of the Buddhist holiday Lhabab Duchen. My eyes were wet with tears the whole time. I felt happy and at ease. Om tare tuttare ture soha.
Aside from the barrage of political ads we get every four years, especially here in Central Ohio, we also get continuous reminders about how important it is that we not take our democratic rights for granted. I took my son to vote early and see the President this year because I want to instill that in him as best I can. I want him to care about the world and its future and know that one person, one voice matters.
Whatever the outcome of this emotionally charged day, this morning’s events reminded me that we each carry a lot of power all the time. We can always disarm each other by seeing each other more fully and witnessing something beautiful in the other person’s character. We make that so much harder than it needs to be sometimes.
It’s no replacement for decimated health care, voter suppression or imploded reproductive rights, should those be things we have to face after today. But I found it reassuring to remember that we’re never totally powerless. Whatever happens, we can wake up and be grateful that made it to another day, full of opportunities to contribute something good to this world.