I just wanted to share this little moment of inspiration that became one of my most treasured repositories of strength. I was working for a congressman who wanted to leave his congressional seat and run for governor. This was Jared Polis, I worked for him two times, once for his reelection campaign as an incumbent in 2016, and then when he wanted to become the governor of Colorado.
I got started volunteering actively for the Democratic Party because of him a number of years ago. The Dalai Lama was teaching in Denver and Jared was asked to introduce him. Jared offered him a white offering scarf called a khata and bowed beautifully. Jared talked so much about peace and social action, and said that to have the privilege of meeting the Dalai Lama and speaking was one of the most treasured of his career. There had been a recent gruesome school shooting the very night before and he was going to leave from the event to go to DC, to protest gun laws on the house floor to do some type of sit in. I was more moved by these words, and they stayed with me, even in light of hearing His Holiness, as I felt a burning, strong desire to fulfill our vows to help the world like Jared was doing. I was ready to follow him to DC and protest right along with him and it turned out, that at that moment, I began to do just that.
After a child massacre, as a mother of a young teenage daughter, the only child I have, you have a particular grief and desire to protect them from any harm. The love is so strong that, indeed hell hath no fury. I cried and I was so appreciative of his civic duty. Jared, a native Boulderite, a person that was inspired by our Buddhist tradition and yet completely utterly fearlessly engaged with our world. He was trying was to make social change to benefit our lives, in a world that was becoming darker, more violent and broken. Jared grew up with wealth and privilege and I always felt that his heart and motivation was in the right place, he had integrity and could be trusted.
Since I was 12, I had been involved with some type of activism. I went to a New England boarding school, and during summers, worked for Greenpeace and Ralph Nader’s PIRG. I worked on a couple of democratic campaigns and my mother worked for the United Nations in New York. She worked for UNICEF, and helped to bring awareness to the global exploitation of young girls who had no human rights: child brides, sexual and physical abuse, and often sold, trafficked and had no voice. Our family wasn’t wealthy or privileged, but I had some interesting exposure to some changemakers, ethics and progressive ideas. My family imparted to me, a lot of political and social awareness, mostly concerns about our environment and clean energy. As soon as I heard Jared say that he was going to go and do a sit-in help our children, at that moment I knew I wanted to work even harder as an activist in my civic duty and social engagement. He became one of my role models of compassion and efficacy, and I am inspired by him and forever grateful.
So this brings me to the small story. His gubernatorial bid was very very close. He was running against a very powerful, cheerful and progressive female candidate who was really loved, who won most delegates at our statewide caucuses and who was our previous Colorado State Treasurer. I had the privilege of speaking for Jared on his behalf at our caucus and county assembly and was elected to be a state delegate for him. However he was in the minority, and we were all so sad and disappointed that it didn’t seem like he’d have any chance. I, at that point was working as a legislative intern for the Colorado State Capitol for very progressive, green energy senator. The word around the capitol concurred that Jared had absolutely no chance of winning a purple state with a lot of gun advocates, conservative Christians and people would not approve of his sexual preference. Jared is very publicly gay, being married, in a long term relationship with a man and they have two children. Jared is the kindest of parents and he is devoted to his children and a listening, compassionate friend to everyone he meets. However, for those that were working in state politics, we were very worried about political backlash and losing the state to his republican opponent Walker Stapleton.
These amazing, benevolent people I’ve met in public service now in Colorado and DC, some of them are so fearless, they work to help our world tirelessly and there’s no sense of selfishness. I think politicians can go one way or the other, they can do it as some type of self-aggrandizement for money, power and control and then there are others that really truly work tirelessly and make personal sacrifices to benefit our world. Jared is undoubtedly, one of those people in the latter.
So, Jared was giving this talk in Boulder and there was a kind of quiet unspoken solemnness around the community of his supporters. We felt from the caucus results where he barely made the ballot, and other controversial things about his energy policy, that he didn’t really have that strong of a chance to win. Even with him being powerful, with name recognition and money, to try to go up against some who have closed minds in our state, to consider a gay gentleman in Colorado, seemed like an untenable task. So I remember one day, he’s at a fundraising event and standing up on a deck and he looks out to us and with great sincerity says:
“I’m going to try
I might fail but
I’m guaranteed to fail
if I don’t try.”
Ever since he said that, this quote and aspiration completely struck my heart and has forever stayed with me. Sometimes, something might happen to you where all odds are against you, everyone dissuades you and all you have left is your own internal voice of strength and knowing the truth of what your heart is telling you to do. Sure, we can give up, feel powerless and take the easy path of escapism, putting our hands up and not believing in our ability to manifest something, it happens to us all the time.
But maybe once or twice in this life, if something pulls you so strongly that you can’t ignore your heart screaming out to what you would like to create. You have to go beyond your fear, beyond what you ever thought your limitations were and at least try. Sure we might fall, we might fail, we might get hurt, we might get crushed but we’re guaranteed to fail if we don’t listen to our heart and at least try. Thank you Jared for that moment of intense wisdom and strength and I live by it now.
May we all manifest fully, visualize a better world and potential in the future, and create the absolute best lives that we’re capable of. I think we must listen and follow our heart’s call no matter who says it’s impossible or who dissuades you, or how many seeming obstacles and naysayers. It would be amazing to find this voice of deep knowing and sometimes you’re the only one that really has your back and sees what you could be!
Jared did win our governorship and he’s done an amazing job in this difficult time and we’re so grateful to him. I know he had a good support system and powerful mom behind him that told him no matter his sexual preference he could burst through whatever social limitations that society and our time and culture put upon him. He’s a groundbreaker; maybe if we all similarly follow the truth in our hearts, we can be that too. Thank you Jared for your faith in yourself, in me, the privilege to volunteer on campaigns for you, your leadership in our nation and state, and may your work and heart inspire us all.