|An early morning row provides a much-needed retreat from the intense political posturing preceding Election Day|
November 5, 2012
With tomorrow being Election Day, it would be fitting if today’s column focused on voting.
While others are swirling in the pool of political rivalry, I find myself retreating into the more stable grounds of nature. I feel a need to refresh myself with wildlife, to gaze at the reflection of the moon in the lake and absorb the beauty of a butterfly sipping nectar from a bloom.
Who isn’t tired of watching – or even of fast-forwarding through – political ads? Who hasn’t seen enough lawn signs proclaiming one candidate’s prowess over another? Who isn’t weary of listening to endless promises that we know will be broken?
Nature provides a welcome break from the rhetoric, the campaigning, the championing of causes. Instead of tuning into the annoying chatter of pundits, we can turn to the bellows of sandhill cranes flying overhead and the proclamations of an Eastern phoebe announcing its territorial bounds.
Lately, I’ve been taking early morning rows. While motivated by the cooler weather, I also row because of the water’s soothing qualities. It’s hard to feel anxious or upset when your focus is in stroking smoothly from one end of the lake to the other.
Elections bring problems to the forefront. Politicians play upon our fears while simultaneously trumpeting solutions. For far longer than is healthy, we find ourselves inundated with critical issues that demand our attention. The issues are important but there are so many. It’s easy to be overwhelmed, to need a retreat.
I find sanctuary in nature. I go for walks. I take early morning rows. I weed the vegetable garden, pot up some flowers and water the plants. I watch for butterflies, birds and wildlife and take delight in each sighting. I step outside when it’s dark – even if only for a moment – to look up at the stars and to smile at the moon.
Nature reminds me that like a hurricane that rips through a region, even the wildest of elections eventually ends. Sure, there will be cleanup to do but normality – or at least a semblance of it – will eventually return. Like all creatures, humans adapt. We make do. We adjust to the changes.
Being President of the United States is an awesome responsibility. I suppose we should feel fortunate that there are any candidates at all willing to subject themselves to the personal attacks and weighty decisions that political leaders face on a daily basis. While it’s too early to tell which candidates will win the presidential election, we can be sure of one thing: Whoever holds that office will age more quickly in the next four years than he would if he’d lost.
I said this column wouldn’t be about voting but in a way, it is. In this time of elections, I cast my ballot for a world in which nature can still provide solace, for a country where individual freedoms will always rein paramount and where diversity of all species is celebrated instead of disdained.