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Patience


Merriam Webster defines patience as “the ability to wait for a long time without becoming annoyed or upset; the ability to remain calm and not become annoyed when dealing with problems or with difficult people.”


As of right now, the nation is waiting. The air is full of uncertainty and anxiety. One way or another, we all want to know whether it’s the elephant or the donkey in the room. However, no amount of anxiety-laden desire will speed up the results. For me, I do better with waiting when I’m able to put a clock on it, as in knowing how long I have to wait. The trouble, in this case, is we simply don’t know how long it will take. Like many have written on news websites, this election is unlike any other so why should the climax be any different?


When it comes to waiting, I’m going to compare waiting in this situation to the waiting involved in pregnancy and childbirth. Having done it a couple of times, I know. The first stop in the waiting room is finding out whether pregnancy took in the first place. After many glorious and strategically-timed couplings, the prospective parents need to wait a couple of weeks to find out if their little seedling has been firmly planted and is primed for growth. The first mile-marker: the date of the expected period. Even knowing that date is a nail biter, especially if plantings didn’t take root in previous months.


Pregnancy is full of mini markers: waiting for tests to confirm a healthy pregnancy, waiting for ultrasounds to see the baby transform from embryo to fetus, waiting to find out if it’s a boy or a girl, waiting to feel the fetus kick and swim around, just to list a few. When I was pregnant with my kids, I’d countdown in my journal for the next mini markers, at least until the end.


Throughout pregnancy, the due date is the symbolic end of waiting. In an election, the symbolic end of waiting is Election Day, typically a few hours after polls have closed. When I was pregnant with Maggie, my due date came and went. I was still pregnant and I felt like a beached whale washed up on the couch. A couple of episodes of false labor and fruitless trips to the E.R. made waiting even more unbearable. Shouldn’t I have my baby already? Why doesn’t she want to come out? I ate bowls of menudu and spicy pineapple curry, drank special teas, took lots of walks, and drove with Andy through the bumpiest of roads, all hoping these old wives' tales would help coax my daughter out of the womb. None of it worked. Nearly a week later, Maggie was induced. A pregnancy that goes on too long can become dangerous because embryonic fluids can dry up after its expiration date.


I was hoping to wake up this morning to irrefutable results. I wanted the nation to avoid the divisive drama that could come from long waits. I wanted everyone to know, without question, who won and what’s next. The not knowing, yet, simply sucks.


I am very much aware that there is NOTHING I can do to speed up the results. I did my part. I voted. I confirmed that my absentee ballot was counted. That’s it for what I can control. I could spend the day or days to come compulsively checking election results, but that won’t confirm the final results any faster. The best thing I can do today is to live my life and do the things that I normally do.


I can pray. I can play with my children. I can cook. I can work on my writing projects. I can work out. I can finish assignments for graduate school. I can clean my house. I can read or listen to books. I can do a myriad of activities that bring me joy and reduce anxiety. I can also fixate on the unknown results, feeling the physical effects of stress and anxiety. What’s the point of that? My anxiety or my calmness will not affect the outcome and neither will yours.


As a nation, we are pacing the waiting room of the maternity ward, waiting through an obscenely long and arduous labor. We will wait some more. Take a walk. Take a break. Distract yourself with work, family, life, whatever works for you. Besides, I’m pretty sure everyone will know when the results are in. Just breathe and we’ll know when we know.


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