With a laundry basket on my hip or a brief case on my shoulder, I’ve looked longingly at the laptop during the last couple of months. I just haven’t been able to squeeze it in. It feels so good to be back again. It’s hard to know where to start, so I’ll just dive in.
Last week I was sitting in the waiting room of my Congressman, Michael Capuano (8th District, Massachusetts, US of A). As I sat on the sofa in his waiting room, looking at all his Boston bric-a-brac (baseball caps with college logos seem to be a favorite), I had one of my surreal David Byrne moments; just like in his classic Talking Heads’ song, I found myself wondering, “How did I get here?”
Fifteen years ago, Michael Capuano was my mayor. I didn’t know him then. I didn’t care about politics, especially local politics. I wasn’t a home owner, didn’t have kids in the school district, didn’t care about property taxes. I was a true civic deadbeat. I don’t even know if I voted in local elections.
My, how things have changed. Last week I sat on that sofa with sweaty palms, waiting to be meet with his chief of staff to encourage the Congressman to support House Resolution 3423, the ABLE (Achieving A Better Life Experience) Act. The passage of this act would make it possible for my son, and lots of other people with disabilities, to be able to have more than $2000 in a savings account without risking losing social security and medicaid benefits, which he will surely need as an adult. Right now, most folks with severe disabilities are living in enforced destitution in order to qualify for benefits like healthcare and housing assistance.
While that doesn’t answer the question of how I’ll find the money to put in the savings account, to say that the passage of this act would give me peace of mind doesn’t even get close this act’s significance. The passage of this act would let me and lots of parents like me feel a little less afraid to die.
So I’ve gone from not caring at all about politics to caring a whole lot. Does that make me selfish, or full of self-interest?
Perhaps. Probably. Maybe there’s some nobility at least in spending time trying to change the rules on everyone’s behalf rather than using that time to sit with a financial planner in some office somewhere finding loopholes that would benefit just us.
But what struck me more than that in that moment was the very strange feeling that while this was not what I had planned for my life, Life had more in store for me than I ever imagined. Once again I have to ask myself the lovely words of Pema Chodron: “How did I get so lucky to be awakened to others and their suffering?” Maybe it is only in this awakening that we become politically activated. At least, it was for me.