Well, not really.
But I’m deciding that, even though I’m not done, I’m done.
With what? Work. Emails, Tweets, blog posts, journal articles, lecture notes, program reviews . . . all of it. For a few days, I’m done.
Every now and then, we need to step back. We can get so immersed in a highly immersive digital world, or a highly intense work life, that we lose all perspective. Each message demands a response, each action a reaction . . . and each task, completed, like the hydra, generates three tasks in its wake.
Human beings used to live at a very different pace. Not necessarily better, but certainly different.
It’s nice to revisit that pace for a few days. To remember, even to wallow, in a lifestyle filled with long pauses, satisfied silences, and heartfelt tears and laughter.
One of my favorite songs of this season is ‘Grown-Up Christmas List.’ I first heard it sung by Amy Grant, though others have recorded it since. It’s a beautiful song, and a beautiful set of wishes.
So I decided to make my own list. Being a political analyst, that list is a bit more focused on political life.
My wish is that all of us who are engaged in the political or policy arena will have time to reflect on the year that is passing. That we will be properly chastened by the memory of those moments when we thought more of ourselves than of those we serve. That we will be moved by recalling the people who crossed our paths because of the extraordinary good they were doing, or the extraordinary struggles in which they were engaged. That we will be just a bit daunted by the challenges we have yet to meet, the problems we have yet to solve, and the people we have yet to understand.
Finally, my wish is that, having been visited by all these ‘ghosts’ of the year that is passing, we would receive the consolation of knowing that we are called to something greater than we have been, something more than we have done, something more enduring than our political ambitions, our policy preferences, and our personal agendas.
We are called to serve the people . . . the great and the modest, the well-to-do and those not doing too well, the kind and the difficult, the wise and the foolish, the brave and the fearful. We are called to find a better way to build up our communities, our economy, and the treasury of our fulfilled dreams.
I don’t wish for artificial peace, for false comity, or for facile and cleverly crafted ‘cures’ that kick our most challenging problems into our children’s future.
I wish for honest struggle, for wrestling with our differences in the open, with honesty and mutual respect.
It’s what our Founders envisioned. It’s what they believed in. A full engagement of competing ideas, advocated fiercely, in the hopes that the heat of political combat would ultimately ignite the fire of truth.
That’s a pretty big list, I guess. I’m hoping that the ones who have to deliver it (hmmm . . . that would be us) will embrace the task in the new year with renewed vigor . . . and even with joy.