I spend most of my days immersed in politics. It is, of course, my day job as a policy advisor to a Canadian Senator – though there I think less about the gritty day-to-day- of retail politics and more about the issues and policies that politics is meant to – though it often doesn’t – solve. But even then I have to speculate on how one might approach the issues depending on which party or parties form the next government.
When I’m not working, I’m often reading, talking or thinking about politics. I follow the polls almost obsessively while fully cognizant they are never more than a fuzzy snapshot of how the populace is leaning – yesterday. They are of little value in predicting how the people will think and vote three weeks from today. And, having followed politics in Canada all my life I know that there is only a few percentage points between a minority or a majority or a government by one party and another. A few percentage points is generally within the margin of error of most polls.
So it is not surprising that they sometimes get it wrong; maybe it’s more surprising that they usually get it (approximately) right.
But sometimes I take a break and realize that there is more to life than who wins and loses an election. Indeed, while changes in governments do make a difference in people’s lives so do natural disasters or unexpected and often inexplicable shifts in the economy. There is so much that occurs at a high level over which we have limited control that, while we should never disengage from the fray, we should sometimes take a few days off to simply enjoy life and, as they say, count our blessings – if we have any.
This weekend Liz and I spent with our good friends, Rob and Carolyn. We sold books and we chatted with friends. We shared meals and engaged in a wide range of conversation – some of it personal and some more abstract or intellectual. We also shared a few jokes – some good; all elaborate – and generally enjoyed each other. Politics was hardly ever raised. We had more important things on our minds – like our personal futures and the pain associated with dealing with aging parents and siblings and friends. Pleasure and pain, laughter and sorrow – the human experience.
But mostly we simply lived. We breathed in and out and we enjoyed our food and our drink. We waited up to see the lunar eclipse but were thwarted by the clouds. So we talked about next time or about other things we would see and enjoy in the coming years – foolishly confidant that there always would be a next time.
Politics is important – but sometimes it is important to remember that politics is not life.
And that’s ten minute.