Friday, October 31, 2008

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Less than a week before the election, and the world seems to be moving in slow motion. I have been anxious and jumpy about the outcome - will my candidate win but then have the victory stolen? Will my candidate lose and confirm my worst fears about my country? It all seems so crucial and our country seems to balance on the edge of a knife.

Yet the other day I read a newspaper article featuring several small interviews with voters supporting my candidate's opponent. And they were expressing the same fears, the same anxious conviction that the "wrong" decision would lead to disaster, to a country that they no longer understand.

National affairs of recent years have been so discouraging, so vengeful, so muddled, so seemingly guaranteed to emphasize our divisions and differences, and I am no less susceptible to this effect than anyone else. But I have to admit that when I read about the fears of those who oppose my candidate, I felt a pang of sorrow and brotherhood. In that sharp moment I felt a unity with and compassion for them that I rarely allow myself to feel.

I am trying to remember that presidential terms are short, the history of our country longer, and our hope for humankind's future is longer still. As MLK said, "Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." The waiting of the next few days is nothing compared to this arc whose slow bending we await and try to hasten, each in our own way.

Peace and Love

Friday, October 10, 2008

"Anathem" by Neal Stephenson

Okay, every several years I get sucked into a new Neal Stephenson book and it's happening again: "Anathem," the latest, is chewing up and digesting great chunks of my time and I am very happy about it.

This is all the better because the past several weeks have found me in airports, planes and train stations, with just the right kind of time for escapism. This book is so beautiful; it's like an extended discussion between really smart but also funny and entertaining philosophers, scientists and mechanics, punctuated by occasional bursts of action and violence. It starts out like "The Name of The Rose" but ends up more like "Foundation and Empire." Okay, I'm not going to try to explain any further, just to say I love it.

And, just to warn you, "Anathem" is putting you all in grave danger of me going on another Douglas R. Hofstadter blogging bender, because I can't help but thinking that Stephenson has been reading "Godel, Escher, Bach."


Went out to see Gabe Dixon at the Varsity the other night - they invited me onstage to sing "All Will Be Well" with them and I was reminded how proud I am of that song. Every once in awhile I write or co-write something that I can listen to with utter unself-consciousness: no self-criticism, no would-a, no should-a; in the case of this song, when I hear it I even forget that I wrote it with Gabe. Everyone likes to get out of themselves, and I'm no exception.