It is official. As of 12:01am last night, the government has shut itself down. Politicians I did and didn’t vote for, who are paid and shouldered with the responsibility of advocating for millions of Americans, let their constituents down.
For some time now, my partner has beensending me a text every night when he goes to sleep in Arizona so that I find it when I awake in Massachusetts.
This morning, I awoke at 6:45am, reached under my pillow for my cell phone, and read the words “Happy Shutdown Day!”
I was shocked. Though I tried, never did fall back asleep. I moved in and out of consciousness, trying to understand why I felt so unsettled.
Apart from the reality of being kept from my job and without pay for the foreseeable future, I felt incredibly disappointed and betrayed.
I go to work each day, do my best to get along with people from all walks of life with sometimes wildly different values and worldviews from my own, yet the people who are meant to be leading by example cannot come to an agreement and so decide it is alright to send thousands of people home without the means to pay their bills, mortgages, medical expenses, and so on?
I cannot say that I have ever thought particularly highly of politicians or felt exceptionally patriotic, but this morning I felt angry and sad for myself, my coworkers, and the thousands of people going out to experience special places that have been set aside for everyone to enjoy.
I also felt sad that my own jaded perceptions of government and politicians had materialized into reality. In the end, I really did not expect that the government would actually shut down.
I went into work this morning, signed papers, and thought I could leave my plants since I live across the street and could easily walk over to water them here and there. But should I enter the visitor center, I risk being arrested for trespassing on federal property.
So today I am experiencing my America, and I am ashamed to call myself an American if it puts me in concert with the people in Congress who call themselves leaders.
I am thankful and find hope in the Great Blue Heron standing still and stalwart beneath the waters flowing through the sluice gates at the historic Swamp Locks Gatehouse and for the Killdeer calling out in the night as I write.
There is an entire world out there, and I am only one small being in it. I am frustrated but humbled in being reminded of this.