Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rejoicing when others rejoice

Kim McMillan is running for governor. Good for her. Tennessee recently came in 49th (that's forty-ninth, folks) in women's government participation. In 2000, we were 46th, and in 2004 we were 47th. Only South Carolina has consistently come in below Tennessee in this very important category. Please. Let me just stop you before you get there--No. I do not believe every word of these reports. Yes, I'm quite sure the IWRP has some sort of agenda that I would not subscribe to 100%. I do believe they uncover a larger trend that is worth looking at. Most of all, I'm just glad that at least one woman in TN is giving it the old college-try!

So...back to Kim. I met her briefly at an event Union University hosted in April to bring the (then) three Democratic gubernatorial candidates together. Ms. McMillan is cordial and down-to-earth and seems to listen when you talk. I look forward to her campaign with interest and will be eager to see if she can keep her focus on politics and carry herself with intelligence and integrity throughout the campaign, without degenerating on us, a la Sarah Palin.

But this post isn't even about Kim McMillan. It is about her campaign video.

McMillan held a contest allowing people to submit names for her first campaign video. Someone who could describe, in a few words what her campaign is about and what she represents. How to do this without being terribly cliche and slogany, but being honest and refreshing? The award goes to (drum roll) Will! Of course, you and I know that he is talented with words and is passionately commited to Democratic politics in Tennessee, but now Tennessee knows that, too. I admire his ability to be a particpant in the political process in ways that are only productive and grounded in principles. Not loud, aggressive, fact-bemused, angry politics. Just...politics.

It's nice to see the side of a person you enjoy daily validated by others, to see those people shine at their brightest, to see how they shine when someone else turns a light on them. (And I'm not even the least bit envious that his mother gets to go with him to the big celebratory shin-dig instead of me...)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Words are my love language.

Your words run through me like the blood in my veins
I could swear I knew your love Before I knew your name
Before I knew your name.
~Lucinda Williams

Conor Oberst's cover. My insides sort of want to explode violently.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Happy anniversary

Monday, a man from the local community stopped by my office to ask my advice about caring for some photos he found in his late wife's...
Now I stopped counting after 15 minutes, but it took several more minutes before Mr. Cook recovered his voice and resumed speaking, apologizing because it "had only been a month" since her death.

The day Will and I left for Washington, I was with a group of senior citizens on an outing to historical places in West TN. At one stop, several people got out of the bus but I did not, nor did the two couples in front of me. The two women were exchanging news of people they had gone to college with (cause everyone, just everyone, in this town goes to one college). Mrs. R mentioned one man, and how he had finally retired from his second career at the age of 80. Mrs. M asked Mrs. R if he and his wife "were still together." Only half listening, that statement jerked back my full attention. What would an 80 year old man accomplish by getting a divorce? Surely at 80 you would know to stay single if you couldn't pick the right person to live your life with! 80 years ago, the divorce rate was much lower than it is today. Our generation may be spoiled for lifelong marriage by the example of our peers and our parents, but really? He's 80?!

Is his wife still living? That was what Mrs. M meant by "still together."

After 38 years, my folks are "still together" both in the modern and antique sense. They have their ups and downs. Kids, job losses, chronic health conditions, financial burdens aside, they are still together. I've been using the expression "human endeavor is bound to fail" a lot lately. While it's true that my folks' marriage isn't perfect, it hasn't failed. Maybe one function of marriage is to show that despite human endeavor's proclivity for accidents, obstacles and imperfections, it doesn't have to fail. Maybe marriage can be good for things not related to marriage at all. Maybe this is the one place where we are supposed to see that it is possible to accomplish most things. Because my folks' marriage can last 38 years, then I can do the job I was hired to do. If Mom and Dad can stick it out this long, then I can tough it out too, in my job, my place of residence, my church, my financial situation, my relationships.

I reject the idea that this encourages or fosters a spirit of passivity or mediocrity. Accepting a less-than-best partner or fostering a sense of submission to what is an untenable situation is misguided and ought to be avoided. You fight for a marriage because you believe, on the atomic level, in the person you took those vows with. Failure is off the table. It just means I will work a little harder. To undertake serious things less lightly. And to stand ready to reap enormous blessings and to be part of a blessing for someone else. I want to marry, but more importantly, I want my life to stand for what marriage means.

A little anniversary present for Mom & Dad: At their wedding, my grandparents refused to let Mom have an Elvis song in the wedding. Something about "the sobriety of the event." So here it is Mom, 38 years later.