I really do live in the wrong place. I detest the heat, could care less about the beach, and wonder why anyone would enjoy sweating.
Then fall winter and spring happen. North Florida is a pretty amazing place for these few months. We get some real cold fronts that barely make it further south of us and get a few real freezes each year – even if they only last a few hours into the day.
And then amid the cacophony of negative conservative talk radio, latent racism in the South and some not-so latent racism here, the coldness speaks to me. I sit with my windows open on this (for Florida) cold evening, watching CBS Sunday morning which I TiVo every week, and it dawns on me. Not only do I love this place where I live that is Riverside, but I have an admission to come to grips with.
I’m a liberal.
You see – liberal is a term I’ve avoided labeling myself or really anyone. I always believed it was an ugly term, like neo-conservative is to me. But then I realized – hey yeah, I listen to NPR instead of the blathering of cruelty and insufferable desire to make fun of others. I watch PBS, am fascinated by Nova, know science is not antithetical to faith, and believe and know without a doubt that government DOES do good things when used as a tool instead of a blanket. I can’t fathom why people would want to beat others down to gain stature, why someone would hate someone else just for their beliefs, or how anyone who claims faith thinks anything other than God is the right answer. You and your ideas are not God, but are as a result of a gift from God. Stop taking credit for his good. I don’t want to go too far down the rabbit hole, but that doesn’t mean that you just sit back and go “I’m a good person and I do good – that’s gotta be enough.” But I digress…
So – I’m a liberal. Now what? First off – though I disagree vehemently with just about anything neo-conservatives believe in, I respect them as long as they don’t disparage we liberals. I respect their opinion as I hope they do mine – but know that it’s their fault if they don’t respect differences. And as my faith continually reminds me, I love them as one of God’s children too.
One thing I hope everyone could do is find their own way in life. Don’t tote the party line. Don’t repeat the blatherings of politicians. Don’t seek answers without also seeking opposite viewpoints.
If you can’t stand to listen to Obama speak, you’re doing it wrong regardless of how you see his politics or policies. If you can’t stand to listen to liberals like me spout on about our belief in the good inherent in people, then you’re doing it wrong. If you can’t stand to listen to hate, you’re doing it right.
If I’m so terrible for being a liberal in the deep south, then so be it.
Can’t we all just start with respect?
So I just finished The West Wing for the second time. It’s been a perennial favorite of mine since it first aired, but I had some things happen during its stint on TV the first time (a break-up of my 10-year relationship with my high school sweetheart, as well as having to put my first pet to sleep being two of them) so I didn’t quite get to see most of the last season. If you’re a fan, you know that somewhere around the fifth season, Sorkin left the show he created. Things changed – the writing was just never the same. It wandered for a year or two. Season seven – the show’s final – changed that. Relationships finally were allowed to blossom – yes it was a gimme to the long-time audience – but it was so satisfying to see two of my favorites – Josh and Donna – finally stop being dumbasses about each other.
And then season seven… the final 22 episodes. The closer I got to episode 22, the more exciting it was. And the more nostalgic I got. So much cool stuff went on – between Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda, there was some great TV. The election was a stroke of mastery the way the series did it. It was a fitting end to such a masterful series. And then to have the surprise of actor John Spencer’s tragic death from a real-life heart attack – ironically nearly completely mimicking the occurrence in the previous season. The emotion in the funeral scene was palpable and doubtfully took much coaxing from the actors. They even seemed to elongate his credit in the beginning after his death – all wonderful touches. I choked up at every listing he had in the credits after his death.
And then it got me to thinking how much I loved so many moments in this series. I just adored so many of the characters and the actors’ portrayals of them. CJ, Josh, Donna, Amy (played by Mary Louise-Parker, one of the most gorgeous women in Hollywood), Sam… even Toby seemed affable at the same time as being a complete douchebag. Leo and President Bartlet’s relationship is the stuff of legends. Bartlet for America on a napkin…
Then came the final episode. It was tough watching it – mostly because it was the end. There will never be an episode with this cast together again – and I knew that. Knew it was over. Pressed play – and there were so many moments where I got teary – and just pretty much broke down at the end.
So what was it that got me so wrapped up into this cast – this show and its charaters? There’s not been a show that has grabbed me like this before. It could just be Aaron Sorkin’s brilliance. It could be the amazing blend of awesome actors, writers, directors. Regardless of what it was, I struggled with what exactly it was I was feeling. What were those emotions? Then it occurred to me. It was the same thing I felt when I changed jobs recently. When I decided to break-off a 10-year relationship with my high school sweetheart. When I had to put my first pet to sleep. It was a change – going from having some of The West Wing left to being at its end. I didn’t remember the drudgery of seasons five and six. I just recalled the fondness of not wanting to go to sleep when I watched a few episodes in a row. I recalled the same things as I did after the break-up, after changing jobs, and after all those other life events where you go from some A to some B.
So this is a blog post because it’s my putting stuff going through my head to words. I want to remember these times the way I felt them when they happened. I don’t want to let go of them for fear of forgetting something, or losing some of this feeling.
But of course I worked through the new job. Got through the breakup. I still miss my pet Bert the orange tabby. Still miss the conversations from people I used to work with. Still think of my first girlfriend. And I like it that way – because that gives meaning to those situations, makes them worth their difficulties.
But man – I do wish Sorkin would do another drama like that. I’m going to go check out The Newsroom. Been meaning to. Let’s hope it’s got that Sorkin magic.
Loving, even if it means getting hurt.
Opening up, even if it means feeling naked.
Believing, even when nothing points to truth.
Hurting, because we WILL be lied to.
Happiness, when trust is vindicated.
Fulfilling, if it is returned.
What we do when no one is watching.
Sticking by someone, even if it means some sort of failure.
Helping a friend, even if they don’t want it.
Belief, even when all hope is gone.
Trust is faith but wrapped up into someone. It’s the personification of all the intangibles that go along with a person we can’t imagine living without – be they friend, lover or family. Faith can not be sustained without trust. Trust is the lifeblood of faith – existing in a symbiotic relationship, the result of which is… Love.
I was reminded today of the lyrics from the song “Let Go” by Frou Frou… here’s a link to their entirety, but here’s a really key phrase from the song’s chorus:
“So, let go, so let go
Oh well, what you waiting for?
‘Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown
So, let go, yeah let go
Just get in
Oh, it’s so amazing here
It’s all right
‘Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown”
As humans, Americans, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, friends and acquaintances, we – myself definitely included – try so hard to hold on. Our culture seems to emphasize control. It puts world-class athletes – those who exert the most ability to control their sport – on a pedestal. Successful leaders are exalted – especially those who control difficult situations. Personal triumphs over situations – control – are praised.
But really there is so little we can control. One of my favorite phrases to tell Madison is “You can never control what anyone else does… heck, we can barely control what WE do or what happens to us…”
Important point – letting go does NOT mean giving up! Letting go means resigning yourself to find enjoyment in the daily fluctuations and challenges in life. To realize that you always have a choice. To embrace the unpredictability of life. If you can find contentment – notice I didn’t mean always finding happiness – in this unpredictability, you’re much more likely to BE happy, to make better decisions. To not be driven by fear, to not be driven by shame. To forgive yourself and others for things that happened that you may not have wanted, but realize that you have to learn to accept it regardless.
Letting go can change your life – it has mine at the times when I embrace its concepts. Maybe it can even change those around you – when they wonder what that spark in your eyes is, what that radiant joy you seem to always have is.
If you’re apathetic about your world, you’ve given up on the idea of your life and existence changing anything. If you complain about government but don’t vote, you’ve given up that your vote matters. If you find yourself unhappy with, say, your sibling’s choices, you’re holding on too tightly.
And maybe we should let go – and find some joy in it. Because there is a beauty in the breakdown that comes from releasing the control you don’t have. And if you know me and see me doing this – remind me to let go. I’ll try to do the same for you. 🙂