The light and shadows seem more distinct this morning, no longer dulled by humidity and summer haze. A pine-scented breeze ruffles the browning meadow grasses dotted with goldenrod, and my fingers are chilly as I write. Autumn is beginning to insinuate herself on this lovely New England day.

So why do I want to write about the Republican convention? Wouldn’t you think I’d opt for describing the silent parade of wild turkeys through the field, or the dappled fawn that just materialized from behind a veil of white hydrangea blossoms? Nope, it’s the convention. I didn’t even mean to watch it, and it caused a serious breach in my serenity shield, which was emphasized by periodic breaks in my internet service that juxtaposed Great Horned Owl pronouncements and coyote conversations with the rants and raves coming from my computer.

I’ve always been a convention addict, ever since my Dad decorated me with Barry Goldwater buttons, handed me a little American flag, and plopped me down in front of a black and white Zenith television with a box of Lucky Charms. I was hooked – everyone wore funny hats and brandished signs and tossed balloons and generally acted like children; but at the same time I felt grown up, watching politics with my family. It’s all they talked about at the dinner table. I belonged. Four years later at age thirteen, my friend and I plastered ourselves with bumper stickers and leapt around intersections like cheerleaders, shouting, “Humphrey, Humphrey, he’s our man, if he can’t do it, Muskie can!” (By 1968, I had discovered the teenage joy of ticking off your parents, and I’ve remained a life-long Democrat.)

Energy, engagement, belonging, purpose. That’s what politics has meant to me. But last night I didn’t get any of that. I didn’t scoff at the syrup, “I want to talk to you about love,” or get angry about the half-truths, or even say “shut up” to the whiney chants of, “We built it, we built it, we did so build it, don’t say we didn’t build it.”

I’m finally sick of it. Sick of both parties. There aren’t off years anymore, where our elected leaders can get things done together, like maybe addressing climate change before Tampa’s under water for good. It’s twenty-four hour, media-driven, mean-spirited diatribes and warped-fact rants, interspersed with those serious speeches where we all look somber and talk about bringing the country together. It’s the gleeful sarcasm that gets me most – did you know that sarcasm means “to tear flesh”?

The first century Roman philosopher Seneca said, “As long as you live, keep learning how to live.” Sometimes that journey is a process of elimination, of shedding old behaviors or interests that you adopted for whatever reason – to survive a chaotic childhood, to please a partner or parent, to feel significant, to belong. So maybe I won’t be watching the Democratic convention. Maybe I’m done.

Who am I kidding? I’m still fascinated by politics, even if it’s more like watching a car wreck than a country at work. I like to think that, like me, America is on a transformative journey, learning how to live. Maybe eventually we’ll decide to drop behaviors that don’t serve our common good. Perhaps we have to see how low we can go, before we can start climbing our way back up to constructive civility.

So, yeah, I guess I’ll keep watching the extravaganzas. It’s my country, and besides, the Democrats usually have better hats.

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