This Small Act

No matter how small you think you are, what comes up through you can be big
-Eugene Gendlin

All bundled up and waiting to vote.

The firehouse, my polling place for 17 years, is cold.

We’ve been without power since Sandy; going on 11 days now. 11 days! (13 as I post this)

Up and down my road, chainsaw wielding army reservists are working to free miles of wire from the weight of splintered pine trees and colossal oaks before the next storm arrives.

We wave our thanks on our way to vote, grateful for their comforting presence – hoping for light and heat (and flushing toilets) – soon.

Our town uses paper ballots. We are to fill them out in “privacy booths” before proceeding to the machine that receives and registers each vote.

“Privacy booths,” what a name! I imagine trench-coated creeps peeping at forbidden flesh behind sticky doors, but the “booths” actuallly look more like the study stations in my high school library back in the day.

Watching and waiting.

Waiting and watching.

A 70ish woman walks away from sliding her ballot into the machine, her arms, previously crossed in front of her chest, now swing beneath head held high. There’s a slight upturn at the corners of her mouth.

Next, a father and his three-year-old son. The boy tugs on this father’s sleeve begging to, “go see the trucks” and Dad stands firm, “we vote first.” The boy stops immediately aware of something different in his father’s voice. Later, he smiles up at me, “I doted.”

I watch stream of bodies that are contracted from everyday care and more, move through the sign-in, privacy booth directions, and ballot feeding instructions. By the time they pass me again they are taller, lighter, expanded.

And they feel it too.

This small act that fills us: it reminds us of our singular importance.

We are empowered.

It feels really good.

I’m pondering how easy it is to forget to remember the full-body feeling of agency, belonging, and forward motion that is there, here, always; especially now, as I wait for my power to be turned back on.

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