As I write this, the air smells of smoke. Poor air quality alerts scroll across the news. The forest fires on the mountain ten miles away are spreading. We are in a drought, a severe one, with water restrictions on the way. The lakes are puddles. Red clay puddles with dry docks and beached pontoons. My garden is so dry, it rattles. The grass crunches underfoot. I will lose some buddleia bushes, some coneflowers, all sorts of perennials. I put out dishes of water for the birds and squirrels, who are always thirsty. The only thing that thrived in the last few months of record heat and no rain are the succulents and lantana. The desert flowers.
This acrid air of disaster is fitting for this week. 11/9. Like most friends, I woke up Wednesday with swollen, bloodshot eyes and an ache right in the solar plexus. Heart ache. The champagne bottle still in the fridge. Overnight, the world seemed to become more perilous. Accessing my Facebook feed felt like swinging open an iron gate to a courtyard of wailing and grief. And I joined in.
And then I didn't.
Learned a few things:
I've never wanted so badly to be so wrong about something in all my life. Maybe there isn't a shitload of suffering ahead for people because of this election, many of whom voted for the president-elect. Maybe we can find a way to protect the environment and the animals and vulnerable people from horrific policies. Maybe. I'll be vigilant. Look for "right action," as my Zen friends call it. Until then, I will try not to add to the suffering.
What you resist, persists. Whatever you fight, you strengthen. That's courtesy of Eckhardt Tolle, and I often thought of it during the election cycle. Voting and working FOR something is powerful, voting and working against something is fighting "darkness with darkness," as MLK said. War on drugs, for example. How did that work out? So when I heard people say they were voting against X, rather than for Y... sigh.
We need more fiction about class-- working class, especially. Television, too, with few exceptions, seems to shy away from realistic money struggles. There is a lot of talk about bubbles, and when you're in a bubble you see "others" but there's a shiny glass membrane between you...to mix a metaphor. Most writers I know, all of them come to think of it, have a college degree. More and more have MFAs. Crushing student loan debt is awful, but not the grinding working-poor kind of awful. The kind of awful where you can't afford dental care and so have your teeth pulled, or ration your Advil.
Habits can be a godsend. Coffee. Read a poem. Write in notebook. Write a thousand words. A writing practice that's a daily habit, well it's like a rail you ride on, automatic, that picks you up and carries you through all sorts of days and dark, distracting tunnels. But you have to be at the trolley stop--your desk-- to catch it.