It’s easy for me to just go on and on and on about politics. In politics, you don’t need personal vulnerability; a blunt focus and a quick tongue will suffice. In the age of 140 characters, who needs a face-to-face conversation anymore, after all? Yet, after all the arguing and spilling of blood is done, after all the campaigning and endorsing and detailing laying out of your political position is overwrought to the last drop of the udder, there is a certain sense of hollowness, an incompleteness that lingers on like the aftertaste of coffee. After a particularly gruesome political brawl online the other day, I felt this hollowness come before me, this need to continue the argument without really needing to know why. It is this effect that has taken stranglehold of our nation and of the millennial body. We feel the need to constantly push like a pregnant woman for a baby that won’t ever be born. The ennui of “XXXX replied to your comment” begins to break in and we respond, listlessly, because we are angry for no reason. We grow exhausted of this election cycle because of its force-feeding of utterly useless stimulation; this contentless election has produced smoke and mirrors but nothing behind it. We hate Donald Trump because he’s Donald Trump, but when Hillary Clinton inevitably gets into office we wish upon her the greatest restriction possible to make her the least effective president ever. Or alternatively, we embrace Donald Trump because he represents a backlash against the status quo; what we attempt to hide from ourselves is the absurdity of his backlash, the meaningless void of his campaign. Or alternatively, we embrace Hillary Clinton, a product of the very government we hate, in a fatalistic surrender to the powers that we can’t change and that we can’t move. Politics drains us; it strips us of our moral vitality; when followed to its bitter end, it locks us into a stifling box of meaninglessness. Ultimately, as 1 Corinthians laments, “if I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”” That becomes the world where politics is supreme over our life. Even our gain is shorn of its gainliness.
Fortunately that is not the world we live in. We live in a world capable of real joy, of true grace, and of flirtations with the sublime. We are endowed spirits, which rise above the morass and, in flickers of faith and romantic leaps of the imagination, act and do and believe, passionately and without hesitation. We are gifted the opportunity to make real change, to impact lives in a real and honest and earnest way. I love politics, but it is on days like this, when people are biting their nails in agony over the election, when I believe that we need to be reminded of the things that have fueled our lives forward. (Hint: none of them involve Clinton or Trump.)
Life is meeting your roommate in person for the first time, and being so charmed by his smile that you give him a bro-hug even though we ain’t even bros yet.
Life is watching the Redskins play the Eagles in a division-clinching matchup on a computer screen hosting an illegal stream, and then watching the Redskins win. And then walking into class the next day telling your token Cowboys fan friend who ‘dem boys really are.
Life is running six miles down the shore of Oak Island, SC, soaking up the breeze and the pigeons and the view, cliffside, of the mighty ocean. Life is watching as the waves lap the shore like the coy touching of the shoulders of a flirting couple.
Life is strumming four chords on your acoustic guitar alone at night in the middle of the lounge when everyone’s already asleep but you’re not, you’re just trying to get over getting rejected again by reminding yourself that at least you still got the goods on your love machine.
Life is dropping your tray in the middle of the cafeteria and having everyone clap over your contribution to the planet.
Life is sitting outside in chilly weather on a bench in the middle of a park with no one in sight, and yet feeling as safe as you’ve ever been.
Life is winning a ball at a county fair for throwing a football through a net, and then naming the ball “My Dignity,” and then having that ball be repeatedly stolen from you just so your friends can claim that they’ve each stolen your dignity.
Life is camping out 12 hours in front of the grand opening of a Chick-fil-a so you could win 52 free sandwiches, because you’re just THAT obsessed with Chick-fil-a.
Life is falling to your knees on a hard wood floor praying that God would hear you through the static of all your sins and wondering how much love a God must have to bother hearing you even after you’ve fallen short day after day after day.
Life is regretting that you asked her out, but also applauding the fact that you at least were man enough to do so. There’s nothing in life worse than paralysis.
Life is having a bro do your hair for the first time, and feeling very awkward about it, until you realize that he’s doing a far better job than you ever did, and then just kind of being chill about it, like, “yeah that looks fine,” even though it’s the best hairstyle you’ve seen on yourself in five years.
Life is finally getting her number, after all the crap that you had to pull through, after brainstorming for like five hours about how to approach her with the most legitimate excuse possible to get her number but Hallelujah! It’s finally done!
Life is late-night Ramen noodles and jam sessions, Friday night flicks and country roads, talking on the phone with your best friend from high school, and realizing that they haven’t changed at all.