Three months into my new job as senatorial aid I found myself daily fighting a losing battle with disillusionment. During the campaign the bright hope of restored public trust and integrity rallied my spirits when long hours fatigued me. Now the realities of the political machinery were wearing me down.
The senator, although resolved to keep her word, was finding it increasingly difficult to pass any legislation that indorsed the platform she ran on. Working long hours to rally support and find creative solutions to age old problems was becoming wearisome. And her constituency was so diverse; I was baffled at the mounting problem of prioritizing. As much as I longed to be an excellent assistant, I was at a complete loss as to how.
This quandary was tying my stomach in knots and keeping me awake at night. There had to be a solution. The other aids I had met did not seem nearly as stressed. They seemed to have a handle on their responsibilities. Yet after numerous conversations, I had unearthed no revelations. I was beginning to wonder if the American political system was a lost cause. I wondered how people of principle survived year after year when their causes were continually defeated.
In a casual conversation with a dear friend; hope pin-pricked a ray of light in the darkness that engulfed my soul. As secretary to one of the largest conservative lobbyist, she offered me a luncheon with her boss.
“Do you think he would?” I asked in stunned amazement?
“Sure he will!” she winked, “I’m the one who schedules his calendar!”
A conspiratorial laugh danced across our lips as we hugged and rushed back to our hectic lives.
Two weeks later she called.
“He had a cancellation, can you scoot right over in an hour?”
“Sure!” I frantically looked at my desk and the stack of emails I needed to answer. The next hour I swept across my desk with the furry of a Tasmania devil to clear up my responsibilities so I could make the luncheon.
In noon traffic driving through the maze of congestion, I felt my stomach sink. What would I tell this distinguished leader in the conservative community who had allotted me an hour of his precious time? Anything I thought just sounded like immature whining to me. Dread encompassed me.
Walking into the bustling luncheon crowd I was warmly greeted by my friend and her boss.
“So, you’re battling a defeated spirit?” he immediately asked after the waitress took our order.
I blushed at his candor.
“Yes, sir,” I meekly nodded suddenly self conscience at my own inability to rise above the rigors of my occupation.
“No need to be embarrassed,” he assured me. “If more young people would seek out answers from those of us in the trenches, we might have a higher survival rate!”
We all laughed.
The remainder of the hour was filled with jokes and extremely practical wisdom. As our time came to a close, he offered on final word:
“It’s so easy to lose your soul and sell out when you put all your eggs in one basket. When I was young, I was so idealist and naïve. I fought every battle as if it were my last. As one defeat after another mounted against me, I too, began to lose heart and feel as if the whole process was pointless. I was looking to my political victories to bring me that sense of satisfaction and fulfillment we all desperately need in life.
One afternoon while mowing my yard, I had a revelation. Mowing my yard was something I could accomplish with great success. It was something I could control. I made my mind up that day, no matter what life threw at me; I would always mow my grass. Now thirty years later, I’m still mowing my grass every Saturday afternoon. So my young friend, find a yard to mow!”
I profusely thanked him for his time and advice.
Hustling back to my office I finished the day with the weight of the world lifted from my soul. No longer depressed about my future, I felt hopeful. I was reenergized to better serve the senator and her constituents.
All I needed to do now was find my own “yard to mow!”
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