“Life is made up of marble and mud.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Strange words to wake up to I must say. But it seems they’re true. Yesterday our fair town had an election with several important funding “override” questions at stake. The outcome of one ballot question especially would determine the future of my employment working with our youth. And as the sun’s early rays stream across my desk I realize that this is the first morning in several months that I can say with certainty where I’ll be working next year and beyond. It’s a very good feeling, indeed.
For me the “marble” has been the overwhelming outpouring of support by many residents of all ages that my position as Youth Advocate should continue. These townspeople, from twelve-year-olds to seniors, were rock solid, smooth and determined to speak out and be heard. They wrote letters, spoke at meetings and in effect became the very definition of community. It’s a truly humbling experience and discomforting sometimes, to watch ones life work being carried and given voice by others. It requires trust, letting go and somehow surrendering to the process. Personally, I have much to be grateful for and many people to thank in the days ahead.
And there was “mud” too. Other ballot questions that I felt our town needed to pass to remain healthy didn’t win a majority of votes and so failed. Perhaps we’ll try again this year or next. Time will tell. Personally I ask myself, what were they thinking by not voting to support the other worthy articles? But then to be honest, I’m not asking “what were they thinking?” when they voted to approve funding that affects my employment.
It’s a curious thing to care about the sum of one’s community, the whole of it; from child to senior citizen; from the shoreline edge on one side to the wooded lanes separating “our town” from the next; I even find myself thinking and caring about the trees that line our streets and the way neighborhoods look and feel when I drive through them. Last week a man said to me, “Kevin, you wake up, drive less than a mile to work, spend your day caring about our kids and go home at night and travel almost nowhere.” He said of himself, “I wake up, tear out of town as fast as I can and travel fifty-five miles to get to work, then reverse it to get home each night. I may sleep in Dartmouth but I don’t think I live here. I live on the highway, in meetings and on airplanes. The only time I think about this town is on my way out in the morning and what’s the quickest way to get on 140″
I reminded the man to vote next week. He looked at me and grinned as if he expected me to say something like that. As he got into his car and nodded with his chin I also felt like he was saying to himself, “this guy still doesn’t get it.” Maybe he’s right. Meanwhile school bells ring, garbage trucks roll and I go to work. That’s the world I travel far in every day and I like it.