I didn’t want to go, but Reil dragged me to the polling place on Tuesday and I dutifully filled in the arrows on my ballot, signed the provisional ballot form (since I didn’t know – or care – what happened to my original mail in ballot), and turned it all in to the workers. Honestly, though, if Reil hadn’t been going and if going along didn’t seem like the path of least resistance, I wouldn’t have bothered. But we vote. That’s what our family does, and Reil would have given me a hard time if I didn’t. So I voted.
I could not care less about the results. I used to enjoy talking politics. I loved watching shows like Real Time and the Daily Show, and reading political blogs or getting into discussions (arguments) about politics both online and off. Now I just don’t care. I might watch Jon Stewart or John Oliver, and feel somewhat amused by the jokes, but I don’t feel the passion or the rage I used to feel.
That same morning, I had breakfast with Jule. We chatted about a lot of different things, including, of course, stupid cancer. She complained about some aspects of her work, we made plans for the weekend, and later she asked me, “How do you do it?”
“Do what?” I asked
“Give a damn about any of my problems. Don’t they just seem annoying to you? You’ve got a bigger problem.”
I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that when I listen to my friends talk about their problems or hear their mundane tales of life, I am transported to a world where these are the big issues, the only issues, to a world I used to live in, but now can only glimpse from the outside.
But I do care about them, probably even more than before cancer found me. I’ve gotten better at listening; though I’ll never be Barbara Walters, I’m better at asking questions of others and drawing out more information about them. I feel more engaged with the people around me. I crave the deeper connections that may have once left me feeling scared or on shaky ground, emotionally.
The world that I care about seems to have become a much smaller place, and yet it is also a much richer, deeper world.