*By the time you read this, you may have already  cast your  ballot.  Across the nation, the mid-term election results are in or will be soon.  

Voting is a right and a privilege. It’s a good thing; we need to vote.  However, the process for change doesn’t begin or end there. And so now that you’ve voted, go exercise. Or do some  laundry.

Yes. See, the real change begins with us as individuals. You’ve heard that before, but the point was driven home for me again the Sunday morning before Tuesday’s election, as I watched Democrats and Republicans go at one another on “Meet The Press.”  

And it occurred to me that our problem right now as a nation of people is what it’s always been: we look to others to do for the country what we refuse to do for ourselves.

We elect politicians and expect them to move mountains, while in our own backyards the earth quietly swells.  The education system is broken, but many of us take an imbecilic pride in our ignorance.  We want health care reform, but we refuse to take care of our physical selves.  We say the national deficit must be corralled, but we live beyond our personal means.

We complain about our addiction to oil–much of it produced by countries with which we are often  at odds–yet we refuse to curb our consumption.  There are those who say they won’t embrace the electric car because they’d miss the va-room of a gas engine.

We know Rome wasn’t built in a day. Still, we expect  politicians to make things better within an unrealistic window of time.  This kind of warped thinking has long been our national dysfunction politically, and those who run for office, no matter how sincere they are, count on a measure of that dysfunction to get them elected.  

I’m clear on the fact that the candidates I voted for Tuesday aren’t saints.  I know they can only do so much. However, I want to help them keep the lofty promises they made. So, Monday before the election, I cleaned out the trunk of my car.  

You’re asking, What does the trunk of your car have to do with the political landscape? Well, in some minuscule way, I believe the future of the state of the nation rests on the organization of my trunk.  It was in bad shape, my trunk.  If I opened it in the presence of friends, I’d have them look away.  Last year I had a flat on the 405 freeway and had to dig frantically to locate the spare tire before the AAA truck arrived.  

When I tackled my trunk  Monday,  among the assorted rubble I found a gallon of drinking water; two sweaters;  some traffic flares, a Sunday L.A. Times before Tribune made it smaller and a Chi-Lites greatest hits CD I’d replaced.  I’m hoping dental records can help me identify the body I came across.     

Say what you will, but there is a quiet might in finally cleaning out your trunk–or clearing a closet, both literally and figuratively.  Redecorating World Headquarters–your humble abode–reaffirming an old friendship, taking that diet seriously or excommunicating toxic people from your life,  are all empowering actions that can give you new energy for the coming year.         

Sounds corny, but I figure if we all make an effort in our own lives, then our individual changes can ultimately lend themselves to the big changes the country must make if we are to move forward, no matter who ends up winning these elections.  It’s all connected.  

With an organized mind and clean underwear, you can be ready for damn near anything.  And in the coming months, damn near anything could be coming your way, so get ready.  

Steven Ivory is a journalist/author who has covered popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio and TV for more than 30 years.  Respond to him via [email protected].