Political Season

When I was in second year of university I got it into my head to produce William Shakespeare's Hamlet. I was the coordinator of a small theatre company called Newman Players at St. Thomas More College on the University of Saskatchewan campus in Saskatoon.

Being a bold and brash wunderkind (in my own mind), in addition to producing, designing and building the set for the show - as if that wasn't enough - I was intent on playing the part of the Danish Prince and set out to learn the lines.  I suffered through a coup of sorts, as the proverbial rug got pulled out from under me (deservedly so), and the Hamlet project shuffled off its mortal coil.

Most of those lines have been lost to the shadows of memory, but the longest and most famous speech from that play remains cemented in my brain, easy to recall and recite upon request.

To be or not to be, or, in this political season,
To run or not to run, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer 
The slings and arrows of what you're doing now
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing, end them. To leap, to run -
To run - perchance to win: ay, there's the rub, 
For in that swell of victory what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this regular life,
Must give us pause.

It's a big decision, one that requires heady conversation around the kitchen table and office, weighing the pros and cons with family, employers, children, neighbors, accountants and whoever else is willing to listen.

Let me say most assuredly, with respect to this upcoming Alberta provincial election, prognosticated to be happening anywhere between February and June, I won't be running.  I don't have the heart for it, both literally and figuratively.

On the one hand, I've been going through a battery of tests in recent days in regards to my ticker and the last thing I need is the stress that comes with a political campaign.  Don't worry, I'm fine, just finding out that my heart likes to race now and again.

Secondly, I'm having too much fun doing what I'm doing, serving on this fantastic Council and being a part of a time of transformative change at the College and in this community.  I'm exactly where I want to be right now and for the foreseeable future.

But the names of people who are running, thinking of running, or rumoured to be running are popping up like tulips on a bright day in early spring.  Every single one of them has gone through, or is going through, that torturous process of imagining what their life will be like should they win, and should they lose.  They are figuring out how they're going to pay for the leap, who is going to belly up to the bar to help them through the political abyss, and how their lives are going to change, potentially forever.

Whether incumbent or hopeful, this is a public, yet deeply personal journey that takes an abundance of courage, fortitude, faith and fervor.  Some have looked into that window and backed away, not ready to jump into the fray.  Others are still teetering on the edge, undecided.  Some are already nose to nose, toe to toe, scrapping it out in the court of public opinion.

I hope the readers of the Middle Age Bulge blog will forgive my need to stay neutral in the current and ensuing battle. As a municipal Councillor and as a director in a publicly-funded post-secondary institution I will be ready to work with whoever ends up in the win column, be they in the ruling party of the day, in the official opposition, or in the back benches.

But you will find me on the sidelines, cheering on the process, celebrating the civic engagement that is going to transpire in the coming months.  And just remember, as things heat up, as tempers flare and candidates begin the arduous task of trying to throw their adversaries off their game, late at night when the gloves come off at home and they lay their heads down to sleep next to the ones they love, they are human beings. And God bless them, every one.

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