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The world is a very narrow bridge

Posted by Robin Abrahams  November 4, 2008 05:47 AM

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... the main thing is not to be afraid (Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav).

I know I posted that below, in my election night etiquette post. But I wanted to revisit it on this day of narrow margins and fear.

Whoever wins tonight, nearly half the country will be very unhappy and afraid when the results are announced. Will that fear lead to spitefulness, isolationism, cynicism, vengeance, Nagelism? Or will it motivate us to continue to work for the world we'd like to see?

Right now, you've voted, or are on your way to, and that's all, at this point, you can do. (If you are not voting and are eligible to do so, please get off my blog.) So I'd like to open up this post for some breathing space.

In your own personal worst-case scenario after tonight, what will still be true?

If tonight brings a political nightmare for me--

My husband and I will still love each other and support each others' dreams and have bread and cheese and wine by candlelight every Friday night.

My dog will still smell really good and will crawl up from the foot of the bed in the mornings for snuggle time as soon as he knows I am awake.

Stephen King will continue on his streak of writing some of his best, most mature fiction to date.

I will still live in the only city that has ever felt like home to me.

I will continue my recently renewed commitment to working out, which has made a huge difference already in my physical and mental health. (And my new iPod is on the way, so I can pump it to "I Will Survive" and "Livin' on a Prayer" to my racing heart's content!)

Campari and soda will still be the most refreshing drink ever, even if everyone else I know finds it repellently bitter.

My book will still come out this spring.

Theater and the visual arts will continue to expand, refresh, and delight my mind and heart and soul.

Dubliner cheese will still be the finest of all the cheeses, and readily available at many of our neighborhood stores.

My friends will still share ideas and jokes and trials and joys and everyday moments of grace or absurdity with me.

This Saturday's Torah portion will still be the one about new beginnings and "overnight" changes that are years in the making.

I will still spend Thanksgiving with my family.

Eddie Izzard will still be funny.

"Battlestar Galactica" and "Lost" will still come back in early 2009. (And season three of "Dexter" will continue to disappoint me.)

People will still have social dilemmas for me to solve.


None of this means that the election is a small thing. The world is a very narrow bridge, and narrow bridges are legitimately dangerous. There's reason to be afraid. But let's not scare ourselves more than we have to. What will still be true for you if tonight brings your worst-case scenario?

UPDATE: This is explicitly a post about the non-political aspects of our lives. Comments with political content will not be posted, or will be edited appropriately.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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10 comments so far...
  1. This puts things in perspective in my head. Thanks so much for posting this.

    Posted by Catherine November 4, 08 09:04 AM
  1. Thanks for the posting, it puts things in perspective and gave me a wonderful idea for Friday night wine, cheese, and bread by candle-light, what a wonderful date night! : )

    Posted by Courtney November 4, 08 09:52 AM
  1. I honestly wish that more people were as pragmatic and sensible as you are. So far this morning, several folks have commented to me how terrified they are for the outcome of the election.

    To which I reply - the sun will still rise tomorrow, there will still be a roof over your head and food on your table and clothes on your back. Yes, it is important to participate in the government, because we are a nation of the people, by the people, for the people - but it's not going to change very much about the way we live our day-to-day lives.

    The Patriots will still play on Sunday.
    My high school and college will play their rivalry games over the next few weeks and I will catch up with dear friends.
    My Marine brother will try to come home for the holidays.
    My dogs won't know - or care - who won the election or who I voted for, as long as I give them a Milkbone.

    I will still be proud to be an American, because I may disagree with political decisions, but I respect that everyone has a right to make their own and that's the blessing and curse of democracy.

    Posted by Anne November 4, 08 10:31 AM
  1. 1. I will still go to work every day as I have been.

    2. My husband and daughter will still welcome me home with open arms and laughter and kisses each evening.

    3. My reservation for 7 at the Union Oyster House on Saturday will not self destruct and I'll still be meeting old friends for drinks afterwards.

    Posted by phe November 4, 08 02:20 PM
  1. 1. I will still enjoy my right to vote.

    2. My dog will still agree with everything I say.

    3. My husbands linguini with clam sauce will still taste awesome.

    4. My son will still have to practice his piano.

    Robin says: And does your son approve of #4?

    Posted by BlondMaggie November 4, 08 04:35 PM
  1. I love this post! I think I might do something similar for my blog!

    I will still be happy I recently picked up knitting and will continue with my knitting project.

    My dog will still chase dust bunnies around the house, at least until I pull out the vacuum and suck up this little bit of fun.

    My brother is still coming up for Thanksgiving and we’ll spend it with some wonderful people.

    I will continue to build my family of choice by meeting new friends.

    I will still come to work every day and enjoy the political chit chat my group is known for.

    I will still take a 3-week vacation in December.

    Posted by A November 4, 08 04:41 PM
  1. Miss Conduct, I always enjoy your work, but my enjoyment went up ten-fold upon learning that you listen to Bon Jovi.

    -- We all still get a free Dr. Pepper when Chinese Democracy comes out later this month.
    -- I'll still go home for Christmas and hug my family.
    -- There will still be sweet tea and biscuits in the world.
    -- There will still be a half marathon to train for next year.
    -- There will still be a cold beer for me when I walk into my favorite bar.

    Posted by Amy R. November 4, 08 05:56 PM
  1. Thanks for the perspective.

    My children will continue to amaze me with how perceptive, kind and loving they can be.
    My children will still believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny (for a few more years, at least)
    My husband will continue to do dishes, laundry and pay bills.
    I will continue to love chocolate.

    Posted by Wendy November 4, 08 07:27 PM
  1. Oh yes, Eddie Izzard will always be funny! :)

    What is disappointing you about Dexter? I've been enjoying the season so far but I am curious to hear your opinion. I have enjoyed your posts about him in the past. (That said, do you have an easy way of accessing those old posts? Having just become a recent fan, I would love to go back and read them again.)

    Robin says: I bet if you Google "Miss Conduct" and "Dexter" you'll get them. Unfortunately boston.com doesn't implement tags so you can't search that way.

    I just don't find it as edge-of-the-seat compelling this season as I have the first two. Also, the dialogue isn't as sharp and clever--I used to love how Dexter could answer questions honestly but no one realized what he truly meant. That doesn't happen anymore. And I don't like the Rita's-pregnancy storyline. It's disturbing anyway to have a nice normal girl like Rita dating someone she would NOT be with if she knew the truth, but to give an innocent baby a serial killer--quite likely to be killed or arrested himself--for a father crosses the line for me. It's hard to enjoy.

    Posted by colleen November 5, 08 10:02 AM
  1. Now that you mentioned it, I remembered have a similar discussion with my dad (who is also a fan) a couple shows ago. Everytime Dexter and Rita are on screen together, I can't shake this constant anxiety of what will happen to Rita if she were ever to find out. I don't think she deserves that after everything she has been through.

    Robin says: And what about Deb? Harry treated her so horribly and she finally learns that the reason is so he could devote more time to training her looked-up-to-older brother to be a serial killer? Whose own brother then tried to kill her? Don't get me wrong, I do like the show--but it was skating right on the edge with Deb and Rita, and bringing a baby into it is going too far, I think.

    Posted by colleen November 5, 08 03:39 PM
 
About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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Curious if you should say "bless you" to a sneezing atheist? How to host a dinner party for carbophobes, vegans, and Atkins disciples—all at the same time? The finer points of regifting? Ask it here, or email missconduct@globe.com.

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