“We must mend what has been torn apart, make justice imaginable again in a world so obviously unjust…”
~Albert Camus (via Maria Popova of @brainpickings)
Life is messy. Birth is messy. Democracy, equally so. We must choose the mess in which we live really.
Outside my window, I can hear the soundtrack to an Ohio autumn – an endless hum of gas-powered leaf blowers in the distance. It’s maddening. I think about how one person’s version of ‘messy’ is so different from another’s. My grandfather had some cottonwood trees in his yard with whom he battled. They would scatter their seed with hopes for new beginnings in another yard elsewhere, and my grandfather would sweep them out of his little space, grumbling all along about how ‘messy’ they were, to his eyes at least.
Here in our little village we are blessed with much space, big trees too, which grew here before the village did. So many of my neighbors employ gas blowers to gather the ‘mess’ that autumnal droppings bring, while we (in the minority) mostly leave them lie where they land. Where my neighbors see a mess, we see possibility – a place where next season’s moths might grow and hatch, as one small but important example.
Last night I watched (and celebrated with a ‘wee dram’) the speeches of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden as they acknowledged what our sitting president has, as yet, refused to – the fact that they are the President-Elect and Vice President-Elect of the United States of America. It was an historic moment and I wept through most of it. Harris represents the hopes and vision of generations of women who worked for women to have a voice at the table.
It was, indeed a lovely moment. And we are right to celebrate the ousting of such a vile representation of ourselves. But here’s the thing, these last four years ARE a representation of ourselves. We might not want to admit it, but there it is. I live and love here in Ohio where I am consistently confronted with folks whom I consider to represent the very underbelly of this great nation. But the concepts these people represent and fight for are the very things our country was built upon. We have so much to unpack as a nation. I feel like we are finally beginning to at least talk about the elephant in the room. It’s a start. And it’s a start that Kamala Harris is in now the VP-elect. It’s a start that an old white guy chose her as his running mate. These are all good things. And last night, I slept the sleep of the unburdened for the first time in perhaps four years.
Many of my friends and loved ones posted about feeling like they could breathe easy once more. I felt (and posted) the same. It’s not lost on me that metaphorically, this is poignant. In an era of George Floyd and Covid, the ousting of the very representation of the worst side of ourselves gives us space in which to breathe again, at least for the moment. But there is work to do.
We must climb into some semblance of heart space and tuck in for a good long winter’s resting.
We must awaken with fresh eyes at what is in store. We mustn’t look away. A couple of people dear to me have recently stated something to the effect of:
‘ I plan to just hide my head in the sand until this is all over. ‘
This is not a good plan, for one will only drown sooner.
Perhaps better to confront the demons that built us. To show up with kindness in the face of great challenge. To avoid any gloating or shaming of ‘the other side’ and instead seek to know what brought them to that dark space in the first place.
This may sound preachy. But remember, I really only write here to suss out my own feelings. I have people in my direct daily or weekly contact in my life who feel this election now as I did four years ago – like the world is going to hell in a hand cart and that all is lost in this young country. But unlike their response to my sadness four years ago, I have no desire to wallow in their despair. I merely want to get through to the next chapter on this planet with out killing ourselves in the process. This will take all hands on deck.
Yesterday we took the afternoon to attend a foraging class at the Cincinnati Nature Center. I could sense that at least a few of our fellow foragers were folks not on the same political train as we were. It was pouring off of them like smoke.
But we foraged together anyway, averting conversation of anything besides the juniper berries at hand. Honestly, had it come up and been a point of contention, I was not ready to pat the back of anyone disappointed in the results of the election. That said, I also had no intention of being as cruel about it all as the vitriol I’d experienced four years ago. And so we foraged.
We learned about distilling the flavor found in this native tree.
Later that evening, T and I took turns doodling the little dishes of these tiny berries over a beer.
“We are our choices.” ~J. P. Sartre
The world at large celebrated with us as the news traveled yesterday. Bells were rung, songs were sung, leaders reached out to the effect of “welcome back, America.” It is this more than anything that leads me to believe that I am on the right side of history. That we will look back at the trump years as a dark era indeed. It is my hope that people hoodwinked by his way of thinking might come along for the ride, but we shall see.
Today, my body is weary from four years of a trump presidency, but at least I slept well. I am keen to reclaim a hold on my inner-knowing a bit now that the noise of a constant, top-down gaslighting is to end soon. I am working to pivot my working life inward toward the studio in order to better weather the financial storm of this pandemic. I want to keep learning music, to knit more. And, as part of all of this, I want to work for a better future for the planet. With Biden and Harris in office, this feels more doable than it did just a few days ago.
And, for now, today on this lovely day, I’m gonna go have a few tunes.
Wishing you all well. Let us go gently into the liminal months ahead of us……