On the eve of election day I dreamed I was attending social work graduate school. I had trouble getting to my classes as my class roster didn’t have the location of my first class. I was supposed to be there at 8:30, but 8:30 came and went, and I never made it to my class. I was so frustrated; no one I approached was able to help me. I did make it to my second class, which was about the law. I found it engaging and stimulating and realized I wanted to be a lawyer. While dreaming, I mused about starting law school at sixty-one years of age, and thought, “Yes, I can do that.” Then I went on to dream about my former job. I was at the high school, and it had three floors. The building was on fire, and we needed to evacuate the most vulnerable students (non-verbal, likely using wheelchairs) from the third story. Without using the elevator. A co-worker and I went to help the teacher accomplish this. It was a tense and life-threatening scene.
When I awoke, I was amused that my dreaming-self was interested in becoming a lawyer, but my awake sixty-one-year-old self is not interested at all in the profession. My fascination is purely academic; I find it fascinating but did not enjoy working with lawyers and the court system while I worked in foster care services. I appreciated their passion in representing their clients; I did not appreciate their methods.
I recognize my second dream to be about the dearth of services in Kansas for our most vulnerable population. There are years-long waiting lists for home-based services, putting all of the person’s needs on the parents and relatives. It is a choice Kansas makes about which federal programs they utilize and how much money Kansas will use to match those funds. Those decisions impacted the students and families at the high school I used to work at. Part of my job was to help them transition to those services when they left school services. Sometimes there were no services to transition to. They had gaps in their needs being met because of the decisions made by Kansas lawmakers. It did often feel as urgent as helping them escape a burning building.
Ken and I decided to not vote early, as we both like the ritual of going to the poll station. This morning I approached it with no hope that the candidates I vote for will be elected. I have chosen to live in a state whose majority are Republicans. And I am not. I live in Lawrence whose majority do vote Democrat. But Lawrence rarely reflects the beliefs of the whole state.
My life approach is I want Love to be the guide that shapes my responses towards others. I also believe I need to take responsibility for my behavior, my thoughts, and my feelings. Knowing that feelings of hopelessness are not conducive to my mental and/or physical health, today I reached for a different place to land my thoughts and feelings. Here’s what I came up with: I chose to not get involved with the political process, except for voting. I have exercised my right to vote since I was eligible. But I haven’t pursued further political involvement. Except after the election of President Trump. At that time I made a couple of phone calls to legislators, went to one Women’s March and participated in a postcard campaign. And then quit. When I feel some hopelessness today, I realize my part in this is I made choices to not get involved. I voted this morning, and now I will accept the outcomes of the majority of Kansans. And see what I want to do next.
Ken and I do entertain the thoughts of moving to states where the majority is more aligned with our political philosophies. But we both love Lawrence, and I value living near family and the friendships I have had for over several decades. Ken has lived here for nine years and notes how kindly Kansans treat him. Most likely he’s being treated kindly by people who have vastly different views. But they are still being kind. What I know is for today, I will live in this state of Kansas. And since I operate from a state of love, I will not vilify the people who do not share my philosophies. To disagree with them is not to disdain, or hate them. I believe I understand their philosophies and I care about them. I am pretty sure my former student who needed to fly his Confederate flag on the truck he drove to school, to “honor his heritage”, did not vote for Democrats today. I still care about his well-being and hope he is finding happiness, even though I strongly disagree with him. Ken quotes Maude from an old movie “Harold and Maude”. In one scene, young Harold questions the elder, eccentric Maude’s kind treatment of someone who has not been kind to her. Maude simply replies “He’s my species.” I agree with Maude. I choose to love my species.
What do I do with my pre-election dreams? I recognize I still care about people who are more vulnerable than me. I believe they should have my access to a life of thriving. In my dream life, I took action. In my waking life, I am not taking action. I am seeing that being retired from being a social worker is not being retired from caring. I was content to indulge in passive caring, but am not sure about that now. I have no answers, no resolutions today. I will get back with you when I have those answers for myself!