Trump’s “win” is SO wrong in SO many ways. It may well be the worst thing we’ve faced as a nation since the Civil War.
Feeling angry is a rational response to a huge broad-daylight hijacking of our democracy. An on-going event heading toward kleptocracy and who knows what else. Perhaps we already had a kleptocracy. Now it will be alarmingly more so. Along with the attempted normalization of bigotry. This is such a huge threat, I am gob-smacked every day. The horrid story line unfolds one wretched appointment, conflict of interest, vulgarity, and lie after another. I’m SO angry.
Anger helps to clarify and energize, but it’s a rotten place to live. Becoming embittered helps nothing and no one. Feelings are never wrong, so I’m not saying lose your anger, or that I can, or want to lose mine. I AM saying it’s critically important to find joy and maintain it. Without joy, we become desperate, dis-spirited, and hostile — lashing out or hiding under the covers. The stoking of anger and hostility is the opposite of what’s needed for clear thought and taking appropriate action. So I, and a lot of others are proposing Joy. (And Resistance).
Personally I NEED joy. For itself and for strength and resilience.
“Joy doesn’t betray but sustains activism. And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated and isolated, joy is a fine initial act of insurrection.” — Rebecca Solnit
There are different pathways to Joy. The writer and wonderful human Pam L. Houston describes some here in this reflection she wrote last year at this time. (Yes, it seems like it could have been written today!)
“The longest night of the year has passed. And these last weeks have seemed particularly dark, filled with, to borrow a phrase from a friend, empty militancy and compassionless ideology. It’s been harder than ever to have faith in America. Harder than ever to have faith in a lot of things. My solstice prayer this year is that the return of the light will indeed be the return of the light. A long time ago I met Carlos Castaneda in an airport–I was not particularly a fan–but he told me many things I have never forgotten, including how important it is to face the changes in my life with love instead of fear. I don’t always succeed at this of course, but I do try. Dogs help, and music, and great literature, and maybe most of all the natural world. May we all engage with the things that allow us to face the world with love instead of fear, as this ship we are all on together swings its big bow today, back toward the sun.”
Pam’s uses the word love, but in this case I think Joy can be appropriately substituted.
Personally I experience joy when I’m contemplating beauty — in nature, in colors, in inspirational things people say and do, in art, in writing, in sweet animals, and a sweet baby named Gigi.
For me, beauty and joy do not always come in and plop themselves in my lap uninvited. I’ve had to be pro-active if I want to notice beauty, if I want to feel joy. I’ve had to overcome inertia, the dirge of bad news, my perhaps natural (or acquired?) tendency toward melancholy and worry. But once I realized beauty’s importance, its value to my well-being… well, now, nothing holds me back.
I keep my eyes and heart open for it everywhere. And lo and behold it is… well, almost everywhere. Even in my kitchen sink. Probably in yours too. (these pics were taken in my kitchen sink, the remnants of vegan meals I prepared. You can find these — and more — in #thekitchensinkseries on Instagram).
The main point I want to make is that there is WAY MORE beauty out there than you think. If you allow yourself to take it in, give yourself that gift, you will feel a lot more joy.
On the subject of joy, here is an amazing podcast from Dec 21, 2016 — Michael Krasny interviewing Doug Abrams, author of “The Book of Joy” based on conversations with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, on the occasion of the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday.
I had another breakthrough in the direction of joy this past spring. My friend Eileen Goldman, (now a Certified Life Coach who I highly recommend) was taking a life coaching course at UC Davis. Eileen is extremely experienced in working with people, in counseling and mediation, in all sorts of challenging scenarios, so when she asked if I would be one of her practice clients for her latest endeavor, it was a no-brainer. Of course I would!
I wanted to focus on how to get myself more organized, set goals, and make decisions about what I really wanted to do with my life, but I took every opportunity (and then some) to distract myself and try to distract Eileen from the task at hand. Eileen patiently waited each time ’til I took a break from my breathless tale of “how complicated everything is” — my worry or frank fear and the telling of my or someone else’s mis-deeds. After a few sessions, I had an aha! moment – the direct experience of my unconscious pattern holding me securely in a self-defeating endless loop, a template to which I attached an endless variety of narratives of worry and blame.
I always loved this cartoon and I never doubted I had a central delusion but, before my aha! moment, I didn’t actually know what my central delusion was.
In the bright shiny moment when I finally saw it, I had a liberating epiphany. Like the bird in this image, I could continue to hang on for dear life to this no-longer unconscious template and wander in my endless narratives (because stories are so juicy and temporarily satisfying, but ultimately not). Or, now that the template was conscious and I could see it, I could choose where I want to put my energy.
Which is in beauty — recognizing it and creating it, writing, relationship, and service.
This was revelation. I have choice.
Because of the challenges to sanity in this new Kleptocratic-Trumpian era, I have made another choice which is reflected in my first-ever motto.
DON’T LET THEM STEAL YOUR JOY! & RESIST!
What I mean by DON’T LET THEM STEAL YOUR JOY! is that, despite what they are doing, each of us has a responsibility to find and maintain our joy. They can’t steal it unless we give it away. Per Viktor Frankl:
“Everything can be taken from a [person] but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
To RESIST means to resist in the multitude of ways you see fit. Be creative. Listen and look out for what other people are proposing. There are a million possibilities.
“Resistance is first of all a matter of principle and a way to live, to make yourself one small republic of unconquered spirit.” — Rebecca Solnit
To aid myself in understanding the complexity of our new reality, for the first time I have chosen to get online subscriptions to the New York Times and the Washington Post. Good investigative journalism is always important, but so much more so right now. It’s wearying to think about what’s ahead, but less wearying when I educate myself, forego cynicism, pessimism, and optimism and stay open to possibility.
“You hope for results but you don’t depend on them.” — Rebecca Solnit
Solnit means you forego your beliefs and stay open to uncertainty wherein all possibility lies. Ram Dass put it this way. Don’t be attached to the results. On this long journey of resistance, we’ll need to take care. To rest along the way, to learn the art of listening, as well as proclaiming. To strengthen ourselves in body, mind, and spirit. And to remember not to let them steal our joy and not to give it away.
We can make that choice. We can do this!