It is a gray, cold day here in Ohio. Like many people I know, both here at home and abroad, I awoke this morning after a fitful few hours’ sleep to a world blackened by the election results of this country of ours. I am shocked, honestly, at the outcome of what has been a really painful time to be an American. Perhaps I am naive but I thought better of neighbors, extended family members and yes probably even a co-worker. I find it truly hard to believe that anyone would vote for someone who carries himself in the world the way our new president-elect does, though I knew there were those people out there, fearful enough to go for his vague messages of ‘change-maker’ and ‘political outsider’. But yes, perhaps I was fooling myself.
And today, I am grieving. Not in the way one might be disappointed after an election goes in favor of the other party. I’ve had those years and that did feel bad enough. But, one wakes up, trusts in the system and has an extra cup of coffee.
This is a deeper level of grief. A grief I am truly having trouble wrapping my brain around at the speed expected of such things in the world these days. I am a slow cooker when it comes to most everything. I don’t do well with hurrying along emotions or decision making. This morning I visited my usual online haunts first thing, to commiserate with friends, and perhaps begin to wrap some words around this awful sense I’m feeling in the gut of my deepest gut. And I found an interesting phenomenon happening there. One which I think is indicative of the pace of things in the modern world.
People are already moving on.
I think part of this notion is the desire not to get mired down in the deep dark depths of negativity, which on the whole, is admirable. And yes, I do believe the path forward must be one of light and peacemaking. That said, I can’t go there yet. I am still grieving. At my own apparently geologic pace.
For many of my more moderate friends, this election was difficult in that they really didn’t feel they had a choice. I know many who ‘held their noses and voted for Hillary’. While I don’t understand this thinking, everyone comes to their beliefs through their own experiences (and, it must be said, ‘news’ agencies). It’s my own experiences that are feeding this deep aching grief of mine, however.
For a short while there, I’d had a sense that the world, and indeed our country, were changing for the good. There seemed to be more acceptance of those with differences, a real desire on the part of people to further understand one another’s religions and cultures and true selves. This felt like a world I could live in.
When I was a kid, after having moved around all sorts of places in the world, my broken family came home to live back here in Ohio. We were poor, very poor, and my single mom did her very best to do her very best through work, food stamps and night school.
A few years later our household eventually held two women and three children, living together under one roof and this was apparently problematic in the small Ohio town we landed in. We weren’t exactly lovingly accepted into the community fold. In fact, one time, we even had a rock thrown through our living room window. Even at that time, I knew why.
As a woman, I’ve witnessed and experienced the countless subtle and not so subtle ways women can be demeaned in our society. Hillary Clinton’s campaign gave me hope that in spite of this, perhaps women could have their equal time at the table. That inclusion could be possible for everyone. As the mother of two young adults, one of whom is gay, I was feeling like the world could be safer than the one I grew up in. That fewer rocks of ignorance might be thrown through our windows. That maybe my daughter could pursue her own path of service and leadership in the world on an equal footing.
I don’t often write here on this blog in such a personal way. I attempt to keep things liminal, otherworldly and artful. I shall head back down that rabbit hole for my work and my own sanity eventually. But I feel compelled to write this personally after this dreadful election. Tweets and facebook posts aren’t enough. We must do some deeper thinking as a country. Some slow, deep thinking. I wonder if anyone slows down to think any more. It certainly doesn’t seem so. It’s all about the next tiny parcel of semi-information, and sound bytes – small cogs in the wheel of the world spinning out of control. Perhaps the pace of things is different elsewhere. I don’t know. I do know that I’m having a hard time with how things are rolling along here and now. I worry that this very pace of surface information flying hither and thither contributed to the awful results we face this morning as a country.
This all being what it is, today I plan to get some spring bulbs into the ground. Which feels infinitely hopeful. I am trying to tap into our wiser selves a few months in the future….
And I await the arrival of a missing printer which I am fairly excited about. These are small, practical things I am looking forward to in my small day to day. But I will continue to grieve for the bigger picture of things. I am deeply grateful for friends who get that maybe for some of us, this grieving may take some time. Those of us who have been desperately poor, or have been victims of misogynistic behavior or have been on the ‘fringe’ of society somehow or other, will need a bit of time before we can ‘move forward’, ‘stay positive’, etc. We can get to that in January.
Thanks to my dear friend Justin for these beautiful, kind words which he wrote just as I began this lengthy blog post.
“I see a lot of folks on my feed telling folks that are reacting negatively to the election outcome to keep it together and get over it . . . so I just want to throw this out there:
If you’re sad, no shame. If you’re angry, no shame. If you’re scared, no shame. There is absolutely not a DAMN thing wrong with sadness, anger, or fear. You don’t need to “get over it”, “man up”, “move on”, “grow a pair”, or whatever else. You have (and God knows you don’t need it from me) full permission to experience YOUR experience, and there isn’t a soul alive or otherwise that has the right to make you do any different. Love is the greatest ally to all persons on this planet, so start with yourself and own your experience, no shame.”
And while we are on the subject of wise words, here are two more quotes bringing me some small solace this morning.
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well” ~Julian of Norwich
“FRODO: I can’t do this, Sam.
SAM: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened.
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.
FRODO: What are we holding on to, Sam?
SAM: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.” ~(not sure if this is quoted from the book or the movie, but it’s from Tolkien’s The Two Towers. )