I stood in line at my local polling place this morning. In North Carolina, there is a strict no cell phones rule when inside the voting area, even if you are just standing in line. As such, I had the rare opportunity to look around and even communicate with some of the other voters in line. The volunteers were clearly anxious that there were such long lines, but to me it was thrilling.
Look at all these people here to vote! I just wanted to thank them all for showing up. And even though I don’t know every single detail of every single candidate on my ballot, I was overwhelmed with pride and gratitude that I showed up and would have my vote counted.
After a few minutes, a soldier in full uniform stood in the A-K line. I was in L-Z so we inched up at about the same pace. For a few minutes I let my mind wander throughout history, remembering those who fought for my freedom to use my voice, for those who continue to fight and for those who support them. I looked at his boots. They looked new. Had he been deployed yet? Would he be off somewhere soon? Is the woman with him his wife? Or his mother? I felt my cheeks start to warm and my eyes began to water. What a privilege. What a glorious freedom this man is giving to me. Me! That I get to have a job where I can work from home and care for my family. That I can own a home and learn about many other cultures just from my neighbors alone. That I get to have an impact on the leadership of this amazing country is just stunning when I sit back and consider the depth of what that means.
As a writer, I often use my words to express my feelings, my excitement and my random thoughts. For me, words tend to come naturally. Sometimes they touch others and sometimes they provide a needed release for me. Sometimes I stay quiet because I begin to wonder if my words are just noise. Sometimes I wonder if my voice matters.
Standing in that place today, I was reminded of true freedom. Freedom to think, freedom to act and freedom to disagree. It is an honor to cast my vote. It is my joy to use this voice.
As I left, the frazzled volunteer apologized again for the long wait. I simply said, “not a problem at all. It was worth it.” She replied, “I’m glad you feel that way. See you next time.”
And she will.
Don’t miss out on the chance to use your voice. You have all day!