For anyone reading this years down the road, I am writing while the world is immersed in one of the most tumultuous eras in history. It is July 12, 2020, in the time of COVID-19, and during the end (prayers please) of the most destructive presidency in my lifetime. The sun dapples are dancing through my curtains and I am listening to my favorite radio program called Sleepy Hollow on WXPN. The perfect song is playing for my emotional juxtaposition. It is called “In the Spirit” by Kahil El’Zabar, a jazz musician who I heard for the first time today. I have much to look forward to on this day. I am going to be teaching an online class this afternoon. I will be writing articles and editing a book. I will have some relaxing time on my deck and some stretching time on the yoga mat. Likely, I will be talking with at least one friend. Some cleaning and tidying may be happening.
Yesterday, I attended a unique celebration of a new life being welcomed into our family in September. A parking lot baby shower for my niece and nephew held at a train station ice cream stand brought together people who haven’t seen each other in a while – and some – not out from behind the rainbow array of masks we wore. The last time I saw these folks was when my daughter-in-law was pregnant with my grandson. Now, at a little more than five months old, he smiled at people there from his stroller. As always when I am at gatherings like this, my mind turns to the series of events that brought us together. In this case, roll back the clock to 1986 when I had planned to go the Soviet Union for a citizen’s diplomacy mission during which Americans and Russians would come to recognize that we are not enemies. As it turns out, I didn’t go (that’s a whole ‘nother story) and instead went to hear Ram Dass speak. During the intermission, I was introduced by a mutual friend to a man who would become my husband. As a result, we created a magazine called Visions by which I cut my teeth on journalism. If not for that auspicious meeting, I might not be writing for the Good Men Project. We were married for 12 years when he died of Hepatitis C. All these years later, I remain close to his family. The new father was a six-month-old at my wedding and now he towers over me. He and my son will have much to bond over, and I can see the four of them, dads and kiddos hanging out together.
As I contemplate their futures, I wonder what it will be like to greet people from a distance and miss out on major cuddles with family members in the early part of their lives. My vision is that by the time they can walk and talk, it will be safe to meet face to face and reach up for hugs.
Each morning since Election Day 2016, I have awakened with anxiety swirling in my belly. I am not prone to that unpredictable emotion but have come to see it as an unwelcome companion. While it compels me to action, it also drags me down in the muck and mire. While it has me speaking out against social injustice, it also has me scrolling past Facebook comments that I would have leaped at before since it is daunting to keep up with the onslaught of retaliatory reactions if what I say flies in the face of someone else’s sense of reality, right and wrong. While it keeps me wanting to be informed about the tornado swirl of events, it compels me to take a news-fast at times. It has me questioning all of my relationships. I have discovered, to my dismay, that some I had perceived to be social justice-oriented, support the current holder of the Oval Office. I admit to practicing cognitive dissonance with them, to avoid confrontation.
Plain and simple, I am exhausted. Call it resistance fatigue. It is like standing in a batting cage and having the machine hurl baseballs at lighting speed. I swing and miss. I swing and knock it out of the park. I get walloped at times and need to retreat. I always return. Why? My grandson, my now seven-year-old niece, and my new nephew. All the children who are here and those who will be. I don’t have the luxury of backing down.
I ask to be granted the strength, resilience, fortitude, and endurance to see it through to the other side of this nightmare from which we will be awakened into a new era, like the light dancing through the curtains at the moment, beckoning me to enter with joy and hope.