Scintilla13 Day 14

We exert control over ourselves and others in many ways. Talk about a time when you lost that control. This can go beyond the obvious emotional control into things like willpower, tidiness, self-discipline, physical prowess – any time that you felt your autonomy slipping away.

I really can’t say my very autonomy has slipped away because of anything I’ve done, even if it could be classified as losing control. That’s an extreme I hope to never experience.

That being said, I suppose like anybody, things get if not out of hand, than at least out of the fence as it were.

I threw a trashcan across my house when the Washington Nationals blew a huge lead in the final game of the National League Divisional Series last year. (I’m still not happy about it to tell you the truth.) Laid on the car horn uselessly for a solid minute during more than one highway incident. Abandoned a new morning exercise regime just after a week. Things like that.

But the one I think about often is from 2004. The first (and only) time I sought elected office. A last nod towards a political future I had thought I’d been meant for since the age of 12.

I lost. Badly. Truth be told I knew winning was unlikely my first time out, but it was the treatment I received from voters that bothered me most. People insist on having their voices heard, their needs met, sometimes even their asses kissed, (okay, more than sometimes) when it comes to voting someone into office, and than have the audacity to mock, jeer at and vilify those who are running for said offices. A smug test, I suppose, to see if those who want to be elected are willing to be pissed on by the very people they’re helping. It’s a lousy metric.

Much of the attitude towards elected officials is justified. But until someone is elected, they at least deserve a bit of consideration, I say. Ask questions certainly, but keep your assessments as to the “hopelessness” of my campaign to yourself. I was, honestly, treated better by my seven opponents in that primary election than I was by some voters.

Or by organizations, none of which ever returned my calls or emails when I wanted to come speak to them. I suppose I wasn’t rich enough for their tastes. (And these were Democratic organizations.)

As I watched the returns on local cable access, (at home, with no friends attending and no family to speak of bothering to show up, save one), it became clear I was not only losing, but coming in last. (The guy who won being someone who still called natives of Japan “Japs”.)

The experience soured me not only on politics, (which had mostly left my system by then anyway) but also on my home county. I live in not only a Red county in an otherwise deep blue state, but also among some of the more selfish demographics out there. Rude. Insulated. And as I learned from the campaign, cynical. Mean-spirited.

The day after the election, I got an email. One like many. It wasn’t an especially nasty email. They liked the way I had answered some questions in the paper. But (and I paraphrase) they said something along the lines of “don’t think someone like you has a chance in these parts”, and I lost it, so to speak.

Self-control would have dictated I just say, “Thank you,” or say nothing. I didn’t. I wrote the voter back and told them that as of midnight, I was no longer a candidate for office, and therefore no longer subject to her platitudes, and that she ought to mind her own business. Something like that.

I’m pretty sure later that day I closed the campaign account, so I never got a response, and wouldn’t have read it if I had.

My human autonomy was intact, but the response was not me. Or, not the me that is usually front and center. Not the truest me. It was the me that came about as a result of anger, frustration, disillusionment, fatigue and disgust over the experience of my campaign conspiring. At that moment, her comments, which again while a bit careless were not nasty, were a final straw on a camel’s back.

Do I regret this? I do. Of course I do. I have no idea where the woman is now, of course. That was almost ten years ago, and I didn’t keep her name. If she is still around, I’m sure she thinks on my name with distaste, if ever she sees it. She may even come out with her story and a copy of the email when I become famous. Who knows? But if they are out there, and they happen to read this, I do, all these years later, apologize publicly. (Though I regretted my temper in private only a few days later, and have ever since.)

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