Take note. Remember how you woke up with breathless anticipation this morning, like it was your birthday. You didnâÄôt even need an alarm. You sat awake in bed at 6:03 a.m. in the faint light of today. Remember the orange hues that were breaking the dawn as you walked out the door. Remember the green yards, picketed with hope. Remember the exhausted faces that stood patiently beside you, waiting to be heard. Remember how weightless you felt, because today, you mattered. Today. You were part of something. You met four neighbors. You were introduced to two dogs. You made your decision. You had made it months ago. You traded your ballot for a red sticker. It felt official. You attached it to your T-shirt. It got you a free coffee. You were happy you woke up today. Things were falling into place like the yellow leaves that carpeted the sidewalk. Gravity was lifting, buzzing, like history. Strangely, you could feel yourself aging. You carried your head higher. Eight years ago seems like a lifetime. Today feels like the bottom. Was it? You werenâÄôt sure. Did it matter? You didnâÄôt think so. All that mattered, you thought, is today. Today, you were ready to start climbing. Tonight, you will wait. You will stay up late. YouâÄôll hold your breath. Hug a pillow. Forget to blink. Hoping. Waiting. But one thing makes you feel okay. WeâÄôre all in this together. WeâÄôre all struggling. WeâÄôre all waiting. We all need help. Donkeys and elephants aside, weâÄôre all voting for change. Change because things have gone off track. Change because lately, you flinch each time your boss walks by your desk, worried that he is going to tell you next week is your last. Change because you canâÄôt afford health insurance or a visit to the dentist. Change because you pause twice at the grocery store, pondering if you really need two tomatoes, maybe one, maybe none. Maybe this week, you can get by with just the liter of milk. You open credit card statements hesitantly, eyeing the interest rate with skepticism. You know eight different ways to dress up pasta. You think maybe youâÄôll pay that bill tomorrow. Maybe youâÄôll sleep next week. Maybe youâÄôll just exchange books for Christmas. You have an escape route at the edge of your consciousness. You wonder, âÄúWhere was the control? How did everything go unchecked? How long will your trust be exploited?âÄù This is reality. This is the unknown. But we have hope. Realistically, you are aware that the government is not going to solve all your problems. You are aware that you have to be invested in this country. And you want to. YouâÄôre ready to do your part, as long as your leader will do theirs. This is the time for responsibility. This is the time for accountability. This is the time for change. A time for sustainability. A time to savor. A time to remind ourselves of what is important. Family. Community. Education. A time to ignore the TV and read a book. Go for a walk. Clean out your closet. Donate. Let go of the weight. Let go of the excess. Find joy in less. Reach out to those that need a hand. Be human. Be a neighbor. Be a part of your community. That is what we need. That is why democracy works. It works because people are inherently good. It is your job to keep the government in check. You are accountable. We all are. Today we took the first step. Tomorrow we will take the next. The dogs are already slobbering ahead, chasing a squirrel in the orange leaves. The squirrel won. Take a breath. Ashley welcomes comments at email@example.com.