Do you remember November 8th? Not the night, I mean the day. I walked to the polls with my spouse. It was beautiful and sunny; I think maybe I wasn’t even wearing a jacket. We ran into a neighbor on our way — as we approached her, I raised my arms above my head in celebration, and felt moved to hug her and invite her over to watch the returns. That moment stays with me, frozen in time like a fossil. That was what I used to be like, the fossil reminds me — I used to walk down the street bursting with confidence and warmth and openness, eager to invite others into my joy.
When I catch a glimpse of that fossilized moment, I cringe. How arrogant I was. How naive. How stupid. Remember when the UK voted for Brexit last summer? How, as Peter Sagal said recently on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, “we laughed and laughed.”? Yeah. I remember. How arrogant we were. How naive. How stupid.
November 8th changed me. As I know it did all of you — all of us. I no longer walk down the street bursting with confidence and warmth and openness. No. I walk down the street seething with anger and frustration and despair. It’s always there — in the corner of my consciousness. In the moments before I am fully awake in the morning, my brain feels around for the things I am worried about. It used to be my kids or my spouse or my parents or my pets. But now, sure, I worry about them, but the thing my brain latches on to every single morning before I am even fully awake is what happened on November 8th.
I don’t think I’m in denial or wallowing or depressed or anything like that. I think I am just alive. As the old bumper sticker cautions “if you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention.” I am someone who uses information to calm my anxiety. I always have been. Like many of you, I have tried to curb my news diet. I have tried to take breaks from Facebook and Rachel and NPR. In fact, I went on vacation last week and didn’t listen to anything for a whole five days. But guess what? Unlike when I forced myself not to look at pictures of oil soaked ducks after the BP Deep Water Horizon disaster, disconnecting as I did last week doesn’t help. It actually made me feel even worse. Not knowing is worse than knowing, it turns out.
So. What do we do? I write this blog. And sometimes I admit that I don’t want to. And that I really wish I could stop. But really what I want is to find that fossilized person again, to be able to walk down the street with that confidence and warmth and openness.
Let’s stick together, my friends. That’s the only way through this nightmare.