Before the election, I made a personal promise to avoid immersing myself in the results. This does not come easily for me – not only am I passionate about the causes I believe in, but I’m also a political junkie, born and raised in the Washington DC suburbs. I follow every horse race and analyze the moves; if any networks would like to bring me on as an occasional commentator, I believe I’d be good at the job. I’ll even get myself a pair of analo-glasses.
But, given my stands on the issues, I knew I’d probably be mostly depressed by the results of last night’s election, so I told myself I would stay away from the news.
Thus far, I have done a rotten job. All right, I didn’t watch cable TV, but I did stay up way too late checking results as they came in, dying just a little inside with almost every race. As a result, I’ve been depressed, impatient, and generally grumpy. On Tuesday evening I caught myself snapping at people, and the results hadn’t even come in yet. I’ve tried to keep a sense of humor – Tom Paxton’s Lament for a Lost Election has helped there (warning: not safe for work or children) – but when you’ve worked hard for something and cared deeply about it, it’s not that easy to just let go and accept that sometimes you lose. Utah Phillips taught us to sing through the hard times and work for the good times to come, but he never said it would be easy.
As we navigate whatever emotional waters are for us tied up in current events, we need to remember that important as these events are, they are not all that is. Ours is still a world of wonder and beauty no less than hardship and tragedy. Remind yourself of the beauty. Let it feed you. If your soul is dry and parched, return to the well that nourishes you and drink deeply.
Go look at some art. Listen to good music. Sing. Laugh. Spend time with a child. Read poetry. Immerse yourself in spirit-filling prose. Have lunch with a friend. Walk into the November air and find the tree that has not yet lost quite all its leaves, but still shines in glory. Discover the Autumn crocus and carry its image in your heart. Replenish yourself, and greet the coming snows with gratitude.
There will be a time for the struggle; it has not gone away. There will be a time to dedicate our energies once again to campaign for what we believe in. Our work in that time will be far more effective if we come to it as whole people, spirits strengthened by the goodness around us.
Sometimes, the world can be hard. Love it anyway.