What Takes Us Into the Future

I once ran for elected office.

It was a local community board. I’d never been involved, paid much attention. But that year, the board wanted fresh blood.

“You’d be great!” a current member with curly brown hair told me. “And it’d be so fun to work with you!”

“You’ve got my vote!” from a former member. Others said they’d love – LOVE! – to work with me! That I was a shoe-in! Just what the board needed!

So, why not? I figured. I wrote a candidate’s statement: It would be an honor to serve, I said. I’d roll up my sleeves, give some sweat equity. Take the board boldly into the future.

No specifics. I didn’t know any. Didn’t really care to. I’d win. Then figure them out.

There were other candidates. A guy named Ben who worked in real estate. A fusty guy named Steve who, well, I didn’t know what he did other than care about a lot of board issues I didn’t get. But neither guy worried me.

On Election Day, the board gave out tuna sandwiches to get people to vote. And we candidates gave out statements to get them to vote for us. Ben wanted to focus on environmental issues. Steve wanted to fix some stuff with the board’s finances. I, as you know, wanted to take us boldly into the future.

Then we sat together while the ballots were counted. Steve was silent. Ben and I had a bland conversation. Of which I remember nothing. The whole time I was thinking, I’ve got this in the bag. Got. It. In. The. Bag.

An hour later, the ballot counters cleared their throats: Our newest board member, they announced, is Steve!

I was jarred. This was supposed to be mine. Mine. I was the shoe-in. I had all these votes. I was just what the board needed.

I turned to Steve to congratulate him. At least save some face, I told myself.

And Steve, fusty Steve who cared about all these board issues I didn’t get, was crying. Silently.

It was just a short moment before he felt my eyes on him. Before he dried off. Straightened up. Gave me a gentle smile.

But understanding can happen in just a short moment. And in that short moment, I understood that I had been in this election to fill up my hungry ego. And Steve had been in it to live out his caring heart.

Which is a bold thing to take us into the future.

And so that year, the community board got their fresh blood. That pumped into one caring heart.

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