When I was a kid, my father often told me that anything is possible.
“Anything?” I’d say, incredulously. To myself, I thought: Even fairies and ghosts and Mickey Mouse and Cinderella and all that make-believe stuff?
“Anything,” he assured me. “Perhaps not probable, but certainly possible.”
Well, it appears that my dad’s beliefs have been vindicated. After all, the Cubs and Donald Trump each won their respective contests, the former by breaking the curse of the billy goat and the latter by breaking through the big blue wall.
I feel like a part of history in that I was here, in 2016, to watch it all happen. I had a conversation with a bellhop at the Marriott Hotel lobby in Riverside, down in southern California, in which I bemoaned the fact that the Cubs were down three and that it would all be over that evening. He told me that he still had faith, and I thought he was crazy. Then I sat in the twelfth floor lounge with my wife and watched the Cubbies pull it off against the Indians. And a few nights later, I sat in our tiny kitchen/living room and watched them win the World Series. A couple of weeks after that, I again sat at our table, glued to the map displayed on CNN, open-mouthed, as Trump turned Florida and North Carolina red.
With such astonishing events occurring right before our eyes, I find it rather unfortunate that the world has responded by going crazy. There are the demonstrations, the school walkouts, the cries of “not my president.” I’m surprised that there weren’t riots in our major cities over Cleveland grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory.
Sadly, my own family has not been spared this insanity. I am told that, the day after the election, my nephew was “shaking with rage” and had to stay out of work. His sister, I was informed, was so upset that she had to take extra Xanax and stay in bed. Supposedly, she and her boyfriend plan to relocate to his native England.
Then there is the matter of my wife’s aunt. She had been very ill with cancer, and passed on a week ago. We attended her funeral yesterday. She had been relatively active until her body simply gave out just a few days before she died. When she could barely respond anymore, a family member asked if she had deteriorated so rapidly because Trump had won the election. She nodded her head in affirmation.
The family asked my wife and me to write her aunt’s eulogy, which we did. I felt deeply honored. My wife said she wouldn’t be able to get through the first sentence, so I delivered it at the memorial service. Honestly, I didn’t know how I would get through it either. I carried an extra handkerchief with me, not knowing whether I would be able to remain stoic or would just break down. With the help of God, I managed it, once again proving to myself that things that seem outside our abilities can suddenly become possible when circumstances warrant. In my opinion, Hemingway was being overdramatic when he referred to this phenomenon as “grace under pressure.” I like to think that being flexible, malleable, adaptable is just part of the human condition. That’s why it appears so odd to me that some of us can’t seem to wrap our minds around the fact that things may not always go the way we expect them to. Some of us rebel against any evidence that contradicts what we “know.”
The Chicago Tribune may brashly declare “Dewey Defeats Truman” in 1948 and The New York Times may rashly declare, the day before the 2016 election, that Trump has only a 16% chance of becoming president. Journalists point out that it’s easy to jump the gun when you’re on deadline, that our quest for knowledge and understanding may lead to buying into polls that don’t necessarily reflect reality. But, as my dad said, anything is possible. Those of us who root for the underdogs, who refuse to accept the inevitable, who bravely believe in the power to change, know that we have a secret weapon with which to beat the odds.