I began thinking about this as a personal (and potentially communal) strategy for dealing with my own pre-election fears shortly after the announcement of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate. I remember all too well how I was gripped with fear four years ago, how exhausting it was to live yo-yo-ing between panic and buoyant hope, and of course how utterly devastating it was to experience yet another W victory (never mind that it was actually W's first true victory). Inspired by the story of South Africa, I decided to make this a personal practice until November 4: whenever I feel the cold claw of fear begin to close in on me, I will stop and take a few deep breaths and invite myself to imagine election night with all my senses and cylinders firing. Where will I be watching the returns? Who will be my companions? Think of the food and drink, perhaps there's music playing as well as the TV--Jim Lehrer, Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff and the PBS gang--and the voices of friends and neighbors. And especially, what will it look like, sound like, feel like, taste like, even smell like when it is announced that Barack Obama is without a doubt the next president of the United States! Imagine the cheers, the tears (of joy and relief!), the excitement and exhilaration--I can SO get into it!! And you know what? It makes a difference. It removes the cold claw, or at least pries loose its grip a little bit. Perhaps that in itself isn't enough power to turn an election, but it sure beats fear and panic. With a few companions, it could even be fun! (Everyone can pitch in a piece of the imaginary picture.)
Today I was asked by a small group of friends to lead an impromptu "positive visualization," so we simply stood in a circle and held hands, and I offered the briefest guidance, even briefer than what I've written above. The only "rules" are that you don't have to believe anything; you don't have to have a clue how this is actually going to come about--no fussing about the electoral college map or who wins Florida; and you don't even have to think that doing this will have any impact at all on anything other than your own (and your close others') state of mind at the moment. And that's enough. It sure beats fear.