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  • Writer's pictureDeb Macfarlan Enright

I Had to Watch a Cartoon

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a political junkie. Our government fascinates me. Our system is so fragile with its dependence on imperfect individuals to put their own interests aside for the greater good. I have loved watching politics and the history it makes for a very long time. I was the kid that came home from school to watch the Watergate hearings which caused Rep. Barbara Jordan (TX) to become my first female hero. I was 12 at the time. I know …

I always believed growing up outside of Washington, DC – literally just across the Potomac River in Arlington, VA - fostered the interest, but over the years, I am no longer convinced the interest had to do with geography at all.

It has everything to do with rooting for our success as a nation and the people we put in charge.

The folly of my insatiable appetite for all things political was easy to feed through network and cable shows, print, social media, and conversations. It was all at once interesting and overwhelming.

And one day it all just got to me: the deaths, the deceit, the mounting debt, and the deafening silence of those in leadership to face history, end injustice, and simply care for the welfare of all.

And it is about leadership as we face tomorrow. And how fit we all are to take on the challenges we as a country - as a people - face together moving forward.

So, I went in search of relief. I wanted to find something that could fill my heart and clear my brain. Something filled with hope that could make me smile. Something to help me recharge to meet the new year.

I remembered how much I had enjoyed watching cartoons as a child, but also as a stay-at-home Mom with Casey and Caroline. These shows provided an escape and a hope for what life could look like. My girls grew up in the days of “Arthur”. Anyone else an “Arthur” fan? I love that little aardvark and his friends. Every episode transported me back to my neighborhood of Arlington Forest playing all day with lots of friends, walking to a neighborhood school, enjoying relationships with adults and kids of all ages, and yes, we had a dog.

While I could not find an episode of “Arthur” at that moment, I did find the cartoon version of one of my favorite children’s books, Ezra Keats, The Snowy Day. It is a wonderful story about how a neighborhood comes together to celebrate the holidays against the backdrop of enjoying a snowy day.

As I watched, I did not realize how much I hurt. I had not considered that the cacophonous rain of political speak had become both an addiction as well as an aphrodisiac for me over the year.

The cartoon reminded me of what friendship, community, forgiveness, and leadership can accomplish. Those few minutes helped me acknowledge my need for a reset as 2020 ends to prepare myself for larger purposes as the dawn of a new year with all its promise begins to give light on the horizon.

And so, thanks to Peter, his grandmother, and their neighbors, as well as Mr. Keats, I will spend the balance of 2020 getting ready for 2021 using these words as guides:

Refresh –take time to clear the cobwebs and the clutter that all of 2020 has brought to my spirit

Reacquaint –seek out those things that bring joy to my heart and challenge my mind outside of politics

Reconnect – take time with friends who have all been affected during this transformative year with some now baring bruises to the heart that will take time to heal

Remember – what doing good looks like in my daily life and the impact it has on everyone

Reminisce – about how things used to be, how many still suffer under those seemingly “good old days” ways, and what must be done to change things on a large systemic scale

And then may these words also guide you:

Realize – that each of us has a significant part to play in making this world better and it is time for each of us to use our gifts to do so because it will take all of us to turn things around

Restart – friendships, relationships, associations, efforts, ideas, and dreams because 2021 will be better, but only if we choose to make it so

And when you need to take a break – never underestimate the power of a cartoon.

I wish each and every one of you a year of adventure, consequence, and joy in 2021.

Happy New Year!

Deb Macfarlan Enright, Ed.D. is the Founder and CEO of The Macfarlan Group. She delights in helping people determined to disrupt the status quo to make the world better.

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