Phil Connors, the fictional weatherman, once lived Feb. 2 over and over. No matter what he said or did, he’d wake up in the morning to find it was Groundhog Day all over again.
What an amateur.
If Phil popped by Casa Rochat these days, he’d find more time loops than an episode of “Dr. Who.” Lately, it seems like everyone has their personal piece of calendar turf that just refuses to go away.
For the dogs, of course, it’s the daylight savings business. Like most canines, Duchess the Wonder Dog and Big Blake aren’t too sure about this whole “Spring Forward, Fall Back” business – especially when it messes with their feeding time. So while I’m rejoicing at the return of a stolen hour of sleep, they’re filling 30 minutes of it with big eyes and urgent tails, wordlessly asking “Don’t we get Food Time yet?”
For Missy, our developmentally disabled relative, it’s Halloween that’s getting recycled. Which is a novelty, really. She’s often gotten locked onto Christmas, ready to play carols on the car stereo at top volume until the back-to-school sales hit. But Halloween used to be a holiday she preferred to avoid – at least, until she made an inordinately successful re-entry into the Trick-or-Treat field this year with the world’s coolest Harry Potter costume. Now, she parades her chocolate-covered winnings for all to see, wanting to know why we can’t grab the glasses and wand and go out for another candy run.
And then there’s the larger world. The one that sometimes seems stuck on Nov.4.
I don’t just mean the phone callers, though that has been a little exasperating. Life in a swing state as it approaches Election Day tends to be filled with polls and surveys, to the point where it seems more worthwhile to unplug the phone, ask friends to text or email, and spend the evening watching an ad-free DVD. But once The Day has gone by, the phone usually becomes safe again – or so I thought until it rang at 9 p.m. on Wednesday.
“I represent an independent market research firm …” Click.
But it’s more than that, really. If you take a look around the press or Facebook, it’s obvious that for many, the election still isn’t over. The fight goes on, My Side and Thy Side, regardless of where the ballots fell or who now occupies the big desk with the box of American flag pins.
I’m not always sure how I feel about that.
On the one hand, I can’t argue with the passion. There once was a time when Americans seemed locked in political apathy. Not anymore. Social media especially seems to enable the launch of a dozen crusades a day, all of them armed with zeal, determination and catchy quotes of dubious origin. Politics needs people who care, and we have no shortage of that these days.
But so often, it feels like an ideological version of the Indy 500. Lots of energy, dedicated to covering the same ground over and over again, without making any real progress.
Please don’t misunderstand. I do care. I’ve got my own candidates and causes that I consider vital, my own list of names that I consider to be utter disasters. I’ve got my own hopes and worries based on the way the ballots came down.
But come down they did. And now we have to find a way forward from there.
I suspect that the biggest issue for most voters this year was not the economy or terrorism, but simple fatigue. Most of us, I think, are tired of seeing a government whose members dig in their heels and go to war with each other at any excuse or none.
There are a lot of reasons, some of which need serious attention. But the simplest thing that most of us can do is set the example we want to see. We need to still care, to still strive – but without hating our neighbors who have cares of their own. Don’t surrender to evil – but don’t be quick to interpret disagreement as evil, either.
It is not easy. It requires judgment, kindness, endurance and understanding. But if we can do it at a ground level, maybe we can drag Washington along with us – or at least make its bickering irrelevant while we all work together to do what needs doing.
We don’t need to agree. But we do need to live with each other, work with each other, learn from each other. That’s how it’s supposed to work.
And maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll find an extra Trick-or-Treat bag along the way.