I spent last night at the Lawrence watch event for Paul Davis/Jill Docking's Kansas governor's run. I've known Paul since he married my best friend, and their daughter is my girl's unofficial little sister. So of course I wanted him to win. Beyond that, Paul's politics mirror my own almost exactly, only he is calm under pressure and I am not. He would've been a great governor. Kansas, I'm sorry. You're missing out.
I probably offended a room full of people when I said after the call had been made and the speech presented that I felt like I did when the Royals lost the World Series last month. That I would compare baseball to politics is probably uncool, but what I meant is this: Both were underdogs, both had worked very hard for years to get to the big stage, the nation was focused on both events, and I had spent months emotionally engaged in the events that unfolded before the big event. And in both scenarios, it was really close. There was no blowout. It got called late.
As I drove back to my hotel, I felt shell-shocked, amazed that he could've possibly lost. This morning, though, I spent the hour-long drive back home thinking about how dangerous and how satisfying it is to care, to hope.
I know what it's like to come really close with something and have it denied you. THE OBVIOUS GAME came thisclose to being picked up by a big publisher. In the immediate aftermath, it felt so awful I asked myself over and over why I was doing it to myself. Why bother trying to make a mark, share yourself in some way other than a Facebook status update? Why try when so many people live happy, productive, meaningful lives without putting themselves through such capacity for rejection? Why work so hard when there is absolutely no guarantee it will pay off?
Why do I start over every time I finish a book? Why do I get back on that horse that keeps bucking me off?
For the same reason I'm really glad I was at that event last night and for the same reason I'm glad I chewed my knuckles until the very last run of game seven of the 2014 World Series. Because it's good to care. It's good to have things you really believe in. Caring about things other than yourself make life worth living, force us to connect with other humans, be proud of who we are and with whom we align ourselves.
Caring puts you at a much greater risk of heartache, but it's worth it, every time.