In late September, I bought a new (to me) car. I loved everything about it: good condition, ideal specs, new brakes & tires, safety features for my teenage drivers, a few more years on the manufacturer’s warranty.
I loved everything, that is, except its 43,000 miles which were a *teensy* bit higher than I’d wanted.
Within a week, I heard the engine knocking.
“Oh, that’s not good,” stated every grease monkey I mentioned it to.
“Hmmm…hard to say if it’s good or bad,” I’d respond.
I took it to a trusted mechanic who concurred: “That is very bad.”
“Too soon to say if it’s good or bad.”
I returned it to the dealership. They listened. “That is a not good, very bad noise.”
“Let’s not judge it as ‘good’ or ‘bad’…let’s just call it a noise that needs attention,” I suggested.
They gave me a loaner and sent my car back to Subaru under its power-train warranty.
I waited a week: “Subaru agrees it’s a very bad noise. They’ll need to tear the engine down.”
I waited another week: “Subaru has determined it’s not your fault. They’re filing the paperwork to fix this.”
I waited another week: “They’ve ordered a whole new engine and are waiting for its arrival.”
And yet another week: “The engine has arrived. Now for installation. And then test driving.”
After almost five weeks with a loaner, my new-to-me car (with its shiny new engine) was returned to me.
“We are very sorry it took so long to fix this,” the manager began when I arrived to pick it up.
“Are you kidding me?! I basically got a brand-new car for the price of a four-year-old used one!”
“Huh,” he responded. “I guess you’re right. That’s a pretty good thing, huh?”
I sometimes think that the judgments we pass on the stories we tell weigh heaver than the events themselves.
I’m reminded of Stacy Hoch’s essay (Let Go Of What You Want) in which she wrote about quenching her thirst for life by staying open to whatever arises. What struck me was her radical acceptance of the people, things, and situations in her life: “I could take it or leave it. If it came, I’d find a way to see it as a blessing. If it didn’t, I’d find a way to see it as a blessing. If it left, I’d find a way to see it as a blessing…I remained open to how things would come and how things would go.”
I’m inclined to think that even Trump being elected President is a blessing (of sorts). His presidency has sparked an incendiary reaction, the likes of which we’ve not seen in decades. Thanks to Trump, apathy has been overtaken by activism, people in power are using their privilege to advocate for the disenfranchised, and communities are creating sanctuary cities around the country. California has vowed to keep the Paris climate accord intact, Maryland’s Republican governor has guaranteed funding for Planned Parenthood, and Maine just voted to expand Medicaid coverage. Our judiciary system has repeatedly upheld the rights of the tired and poor huddled masses. Trump has inspired women to run for office in record breaking numbers. An openly transgender person became the first to win a statehouse seat anywhere in the country. And Democrats stormed the polls yesterday to elect minority candidates in Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Virginia. (Plus, Frederick’s Democrats swept the city ticket by electing a new Mayor and a full slate of Aldermen!)
Trump has fueled progressive patriotism like no one else before him.
Maybe we’re too quick to judge. Maybe things are neither “good” nor “bad” …maybe they’re just a part of our story. And in telling our stories, maybe we grow a little closer to someone else who has a similar story, which is how our friendships, our community, the web that weaves us together, grows — strengthens — too.
Maybe it all just simply IS.