2020 is out. 2021 is in. The current administration is out. Biden/Harris are in and so is an imminent vaccine. So why do we still feel anxious and weary?\\
I got a phone call this morning from a close friend who was dreading the upcoming presidential certification on January 6th. She was appalled at the obstructionism that is going on, the continuing tantrums that are being thrown. She kept saying, “How can this be happening? I can’t believe it.” She spoke about how frightened and angry it all makes her. I understand. None of it is lost on me. It feels like a painful continuation of the recent past. Just when we thought it was safe to turn on the television . . .
“Change the channel,” I told her. It was the only thing I could say because there’s nothing new here. It’s been going on for years, it’s no surprise, it isn’t hard to believe and it won’t end until the eleventh hour, so why should we let the negativity take us down over and over? I saw a cartoon once with a man sitting on a psychiatrist’s couch, his hair standing on end, his face flushed red and his fists clenched. The bubble over the psychiatrist said, “I’m taking you off Fox News and putting you on Hallmark.”
If we look at it in terms of winning and losing, when we feel dread and stress, wring our hands and become paralyzed with fear and rage, we lose. When we let go and focus on something beautiful and creative, when we refuse to cower and tremble in the face of bullying, we win. We win back our peace, our trust and our connection to the finer things in life. I’m not suggesting that we turn away and go numb. I’m not suggesting that we pretend nothing is happening. I’m simply suggesting that we acknowledge the truth, see if there is anything we can do about it, and when we’ve done all we can, change the focus. There are hundreds of channels on our radar, so why pick the horror show?
I’m as vulnerable as anyone else to the current state of the union and the world. Covid scares me when I cough or feel overheated and when I find out a friend has contracted it and is suffering. I find the politics offensive and unconscionable, I want to scream and complain. I’m tired of the isolation and I wish I could go out to dinner, sit with my knitting ladies and go to the movies.
But I also want to feel hopeful, to appreciate this phase of life because I have no idea how long I’ll be here. I want to write beautiful prose and teach my classes. I want to watch the sunset from my living room windows. I want to marvel at the way my cat stretches her paws over her head and shows me her furry belly when she sits in front of the heater. I want to feel connected with the people who are checking on my well being.
I remember the days when you had to get off the couch, walk to the television, turn the dial to one out of five channels and sit back down. These days, we have a remote. We can flip through hundreds of possibilities and stop on something that makes us feel good or something that occupies our minds and makes us think. We can feed our bodies junk food or a salad and we can feed our heads bad news or beauty and hope.
To quote rock and roller, Grace Slick, whom I’m proud to call a friend.
“Remember what the dormouse said. Feed your head. Feed your head.”