I've been composing this in my mind since Wednesday, but I wanted to wait a few days for the exhilaration to die down before posting. I went to bed on Tuesday night before any of the networks had made an official prediction of the election winner. It looked promising, but I'd thought so in 2004 too. Also in 2000. So, with Amy Ray's sage advice ("Don't assume anything") thundering across my synapses, I dropped off to sleep with hope, tremendous hope, but also tremendous trepidation. I thought it would be best if I got a good night's sleep before steeling myself up to find out who won, and who lost.
Well, fate had other plans for me. Rather, my friend [J] had other plans. He drunk text messaged me at 1:20am with the following: "Fuck yes. Obama." Then he drunk dialed me 30 minutes later and left a wonderfully rambling message about love, change, and the promise of a new future. I really wish I'd saved it. I would totally turn it into an MP3 and post it if I had.
For the most part, I'm quite jaded about politics, and I usually end up pulling down the lever for the candidate I think has the least capacity to harm her or his constituents. Triage voting. This time was different. It marked the first time I'd voted for a winning presidential candidate, for one thing. In 2004, I voted for Kerry; 2000, Nader (whoops!); 1996, I wrote in a vote for Colin Powell. So I guess I've always been an idealist. Obama is almost too good to be true, even by my idealistic standards. That speech he gave on race last spring? When the GOP was slinging about all that nonsense about Reverend Wright, like a passel of angry monkeys slinging their own shit? His speech was amazing. It brought tears to my eyes then, and it still does when I think about it. I was already an Obama supporter when I watched it, but that was the point at which I realized that he was the real thing; not just play acting the role. He didn't mince his words. He didn't go on the attack, and he didn't pull punches. He said more in 30 minutes than any other leader has on that topic in decades. Look it up on YouTube and be amazed.
After the third debate, one of my yoga teachers talked about the two candidates as "warriors." One, angry, bitter, ready to attack, unable to reign in his animosity. The other, cool, calm, reserved, letting groundless accusations and false statements slide off of him like water off a duck's back. Words by Rudyard Kipling return to me now: "If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools..." He bore it. He bore it and smiled. Another teacher, in Wednesday night's class, described Obama as a yogi. I don't know if he's ever been on a mat, but truer words were never spoken. As I've written elsewhere, in advanced yoga practice, the mat disappears.
Which brings me to Wednesday. Wednesday was amazing. In the morning, I watched Obama's gracious acceptance speech, and again was moved to tears. Everyone I know, everyone I ran into, was equal parts relieved and ecstatic. Wednesday night's yoga class was incredible. There were other factors involved, I know, but I was amazed at how much more open my body was than even the day before. My old practice, the practice I'd been accustomed to prior to slacking off last summer, was finally back. It's astonishing to me how much tension I was carrying in my body in the weeks leading up to the election. Do you remember the scene at the end of Return of the Jedi when the Death Star has been destroyed and the Ewoks are beating out a victory song using the stormtroopers' helmets as drums? Wednesday felt like that. Relief. Ecstasy. Release.
I will remember Wednesday as the day that I realized we'd turned "Yes We Can" into "Yes We Did." Congratulations, President Elect Obama. Congratulations to all of us, really. We've waited a long time for someone of this caliber to be elected.