In the Beginning

In the Beginning

Those words above in the title sound so biblical, don’t they? Like a declaration, something official, something deemed worthy of noting its starting point. Today is a beginning. Some people are happy about it, and others may be feeling a gumbo of mixed emotions — fear, sadness, anger, disappointment. This isn’t a blog about Donald Trump. It isn’t. Not really. It’s more about choices, not for the election but after it.

 

Not every beginning is a good thing — at least not on the surface. I’ll give you a few examples I’ve experienced firsthand that will sound familiar to some. The first day unemployed after a layoff. It’s the crappiest, most confusing, most frightening day ever. You feel rejected, you feel lost and quickly scared because the future is so completely mysterious. Any time I’ve found myself without a job for whatever reason— once the little company closed altogether, another time my magazine was discontinued, and yet another time, I made the choice to quit a position rather than commute further and work for the big fish that chomped up the little one — I have always found that months and years down the road, that turned out to be a much better new beginning. Whether my exit was by my hand or someone else’s, the transition that felt so scary or difficult turned out to make me better. I was forced to learn new things or work more diligently at improving my skills to move to the next step, even if I didn’t know at the time what it was.

 

Now to my fellow Dems reading this who are saying ‘Whoaaaa, Chris, you’re not suggesting things will be better these next four years,’  I say please do not misinterpret. I am not making any commentary here in either direction. Again, that is not what this blog is about. I know exactly what I thought about the past 8 years and my initial feelings about the next four years, and those aren’t relevant to the point I am trying to make here. What is relevant is that we all have an opportunity to grow from any experience and that includes the ones that may not go our way. Take relationships, for instance — we may have been on the receiving end of a break-up or been the one to initiate it, and either way though it can be traumatic and emotionally draining, it can also lead us to become better, stronger people.

 

When I filed for divorce after my first marriage, it was the first time I was alone in my life and though I knew I was better off alone than in the company of someone who hurt me deeply, it didn’t remove the fear or the concern I had about whether or not I could pull off living alone and fending for myself. Everything now fell on my shoulders, and though my parents offered support, I refused to take it because I think even then at 23, I knew that lessons were there for me but I had to be willing to give up a little to learn the value of making important household decisions for myself. Self-confidence was not a character trait I had an abundance of, so it wasn’t easy. I was living in an awesome apartment nestled inside one of the worst crime areas of Tampa Bay (you know it’s bad when it earns its own distinctive nickname among the locals). I remember once waking up to the sound of repetitive gunshots followed by some shouts and what I could only describe as a slicing scream. I was on the second floor and had my bedroom window propped open to save money on air conditioning. And frankly, it scared the living shit out of me. I stood by the window frozen in my tracks awaiting the next round of shots which never came. Once I could finally move again, I slammed the window shut, flipped on the A/C and I’m pretty certain stayed up watching an old movie to regain my nerves. I also don’t recall ever sleeping with the windows open again. But despite this scary start to my freedom from a bad marriage, I knew that this was only a beginning to something much better for me and I was right. Over the next year, I learned so much about myself and really focused on becoming stronger, wiser and ready for anything.

 

Then of course there are the beginnings that we look to with great anticipation and excitement — welcoming new family members by birth or marriage, buying a new home, starting a job we can’t wait to begin. And these will have their good and bad times throughout their own lifespans, we know that. But it doesn’t make one beginning any better or worse than another because every start leads us to a place we probably didn’t anticipate and each experience no matter how rough or rewarding is one worth having.

 

So how does this tie into the inauguration of a new president? I have made my thoughts clear on who I wanted to see swearing in today and it was not this man but he is there. So where does that leave people like me? I’m human. I won’t lie and tell you that I haven’t made some snarky jokes or fallen into some Debbie Downer moments. But I continue to pull myself from those and remind myself: this is another beginning, not just for a new elected leader but for all of us, whether we picked him or not.  I have been working on becoming stronger and wiser all of these years, through good and bad, and I know a lot of you could attest to the same thing. Perhaps now, all those lessons learned and knowledge gained along the way will be tested.

 

With this new beginning, I see some challenges ahead for me that I have to be willing to take on such as… I will need to be more alert to what is happening around me, staying educated about the latest legislation being put forth and not being afraid or hesitant to reach out to my elected officials and express any concerns. During most of my lifetime as a voter, I have never felt compelled to be active beyond my vote. It is possible during these next four years I may find the need to become a more active constituent. I’m ready to do that. I’m prepared to read more, learn more and do more, if need calls for it. I have never felt more of an importance to becoming a more active American citizen than ever before.

 

I am not excited like some of my friends in the redder states might be today, and though I live in what I would regard as an often perplexing purple state, I will not insult others’ candidate or take away from their moment to enjoy the election of who they chose. But I am ready in this new age to use the skills that I have and the strength and knowledge I have to be the best listener and compassionate citizen I can be during these four years, using that strength and wisdom in the most meaningful way I know how.

 

Just think how much more you know now than you did four years ago or even 10 or 15 years ago. We will all know much more in four years, all of us.  Just think where that knowledge has the power to take us in our own individual journeys to become better citizens and better human beings. I have particular values for which I look to any leader to possess and demonstrate through their words and actions, and as with any leader elected whether I voted for them or not, I’m going to be holding our new president to those values. To me, that is the most responsible and valuable thing I or anyone else in this country can and should do. And I will continue to value and do what I can to protect individual freedoms, particularly freedom of expression. It is my most valued right and I will defend it with the purest, sincerest commitment and passion for the rest of my life. Not just as an artist but as a believer in equality across all lines.

 

That is how I choose to view today. That is the best way I can choose to find something positive in this day, regardless of how I might feel about the person stepping into the role of President of the United States. If you are a fellow American, regardless of whether you lean toward a particular party or not, I encourage you to think about yourself and what you will choose.  Peace. xo  ~ Chris K

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