Thursday, November 10, 2016

Full Catastrophe

Donald Trump is the newly elected President of the United States of America.

There, I said it.

I have people I love whom voted for him, and though I don't get that I admire them for at least showing up and voting. Why did almost 1/2 of our country not vote at all? Seriously, voting is an honor, a privilege, something people died for the right to do. This, maybe more than anything, is what infuriates me about this election.

I have been pondering the concept of giving up a lot lately. I mean, I have a kid in jail, I have barely tolerable health on risky immunosuppressant medications, I have become wildly out of shape, and my work, though I love it in many ways, is Sisyphusian.

My yard is overgrown, my driveway needs sweeping, my car needs cleaning, my piano needs tuning and there are a couple of upcoming presentations that I have written up and prepared only in my mind, which unless Spock teaches me to mind meld stat will do no good on the day people show up to hear my thoughts.

I was signed up for the California International Marathon in December, but deferred till next year, because...wildly out of shape My foot has been hurting. My work days lengthening. My energy ebbing.

My hair has the Obama effect, and though I am glad to have hair, I have more salt and pepper now than either of my parents did at age 60.

And then, a guy whom the KKK wants to cuddle with is my new President. Sheesh.

I am currently re-reading Full Catastrophe Living. It is a treatise of sorts, on mindfulness. I have been dubbed Zennifer at times in my life, but honestly I am so type A and so constantly on the move that I see myself as far away from Enlightenment as Sarah Palin is from cleaning the maggots off a homeless person's wound. Which I have done, but that's a story for another time. The other day I was cracking myself up: having 25 minutes to grab a bite to eat, I went to my local co-op (check-mindful), ordered some organic stuff (check-mindful), opened up my magazine with a lead article "Hope & Healing- Buddhist Wisdom for a Troubled Time" (check -mindful), then shoved down my food while reading the magazine and rushed back to work with a sort of leaden feeling in my belly (yeah....not so mindful).

For the doubters out there, mindful meditation has been shown to reduce pain, stress and other symptoms of chronic illness and of being human. You don't have to be Buddhist to do it. It is kind of all the rage right now, which makes me a little concerned that it is a potentially mis-used or poorly executed therapy or practice. Best to seek someone who knows what they are doing and learn how to meditate.

Learning to be mindful is like doing a mind meld with a toddler. Or a very old person with dementia. Can our experiences be distilled into a literal breath-to-breath wonderment? Can we let go of our talkative inner mind and allow space for something less judgmental and toxic?

Yep, I am pretty much a Californian now. Born in Michigan, raised in Wisconsin, and always, always drawn to the coast. My first ocean experience was the East Coast. As a kid, and this is the Gospel truth, the first time I saw the ocean I just sat there and stared for at least an hour. Now I am a connoisseur of the North coast of the Pacific. I love the smell, the wildness, the fog, the sharks, the sandy dunes and the steep cliffs and the complete lack of pretense. Unless you count my poodle, who could've been registered for his purebred glory, but I was too cheap to fork out the dough and too embarrassed by the prospect of giving him some weird name, like Sir Poops A Lot or whatever.

All of this is to say I could very easily quit. I could quit trying so hard. I could quit my country. I could quit reading and quit meditating and quit running and quit trying to heal the broken people who show up for care.

But then I turn off my mind's chatter and I just be.

There are certainties in life:
1) we will all die
2) this too shall pass
3) I was fast once, and again shall I be fast
4) number 3 refers to running, not some Trumpism about my female attributes
5) I could quit, but where is the fun in that?

You guys, if you are type A like me, this election is like the best, most challenging assignment any teacher or boss ever gave you in your entire life! And if you are better than I, i.e. Type B--well then, just breathe, and be kind, and most likely, things will sort themselves out.

The full catastrophe is life. Life is precious. People are generally good. We have some work to do.

First of which is I totally gotta get back to running.
Second of which is I better get my presentations out of my brain and on my computer.
Third of which is we ALL must fight tooth and nail for compassion, rights, and sanity in this, our country. We shall overcome.


3 comments:

  1. I have a breath.

    I have a dream.

    I have a breath.

    I have a dream.

    I will not rest.

    I will not rush.

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  2. Nicely said. This election blind-sided me. And really, I'm so bitter my eyes ache, but I am also in deep denial. Not that I can deny it really happened. but part of me still has to deny that this is really who we are. Roughly 25% of the electorate voted to put Trump into office, and a whole lot of them, I have to believe, just weren't paying enough attention. Sure, racism and xenophobia and misogyny are real. They're baked in to our society. But so, also, is kindness and compassion. The darkness won this time. We'll push back. We'll stay awake. We'll keep on dreaming.

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  3. Nice piece Jennifer! I so appreciate and love you. I admit it, I don't look at FB or your blog regularly, but everytime I do, I am reassured that we are still on the same page as we were growing up - despite how it appears our childhood hometown voted this time around! I was completely blind-sided too. I don't know how to explain this to my Liberian husband and children or any of my college students at work. I am seeking to understand why and pledge to continue to practice kindness and compassion for others. While it's incredibly hard to hear people around the county who voted for Trump "voted for change" but didn't mean they share the same disturbing beliefs based on racism, xenophobia and misogyny that regularly came out of Donald's mouth throughout his campaign, I will seek to understand what exactly they meant. Thinking about how communication has changed and soundbites are what the vast majority of our country pay attention to, I will keep hope alive and try to believe as Atthys noted those who voted weren't paying enough attention. We will regroup and we will continue to push for the "change" we know needs to happen in order to make America a just, equitable, and safe place for all of us no matter who we are and how we identify.

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