It’s the morning after the election and everything appears normal.
The magpies arrive at first light, skidding on our iced-over shed roof to nab the elk scraps that Dan routinely tosses up for them.
Rose has just saved up—through walking a sweet though curmudgeonly black Scottie who sighs in exasperation when she arrives to take him out—enough money to put a streak of purple dye in her hair and is kicking into victorious handstands.
Col is whistling while working on a lego biplane, taking breaks only to eat, calculate homeschool fractions, sleep, and “snugoo,” which is the enfolding of a small boy into the arms of a parent until his battery of nourishment is recharged.
And Dan is watching a YouTube video on how to reset a toilet on a new seal, and sidling up to me wondering what sort of compensation he might get for his work.
Late on Tuesday the four of us drove home from an election night event. Outside it was dark and cold; inside, quiet and sober. Unthinkable truths circulated like another presence in the car. The kids begged to know: Could it really true? Rosie, her 9-year old voice earnest and quavery, asked, “But will our neighborhood change?” Fair enough little one. This neighborhood is the beloved backdrop for all of Rosie’s community organizing, most of which occurs on the trampoline out front.
It’s a little like going through the five stages of grief: denial, dismay, horror, Halloween candy, beer.
And then, hugs. There’s been so much more hugging lately. I went to the Smiley Cafe yesterday (which is my fave, with their solar-powered espresso, gluten-free treats, community piano and dogs ambling through) and exchanged hugs that were a balm to my emotionally drained soul.
Extra big hugs to everyone who worked hard for this election. Our little 11-year friend Mariah spent days calling Democrats to make sure they knew the location of their polling place and were going to vote. She could have been at the mall obsessing over the size of her thighs, as the machine of advertising would hope, but she found something outside of herself to work for and is one of my true heroes. (And, can Rosie come over and apprentice with you, Mariah?) Another friend is organizing a women’s political action group, to meet in her living room. Everywhere, people are mobilizing, which is the fertility that arises from the composting of anger.
After the grief you remember how much you love this one wild and precious life. There’s so much we can do. We can empower ourselves by spreading joy and generosity, which really is code for boosting our own happiness quotient (which allows us to spread more joy and generosity, which…). We can foster dogs and snuggle cats at the humane society, in the room Rosie calls, “The Cateteria.” We can welcome someone to our Thanksgiving table even though his/her Facebook posts have given us a slight case of hives this past month.
We can notice that when we blame others we’re likely covering up our own pain which could use the light of illumination and care. We can listen to our children even if it seems they’re only talking about hair dye and legos, again, because feeling seen and heard is a basic human need.
We can take walks on the earth and notice that the oak trees and scrub jays have found a way to live harmoniously, reciprocally, neither taking nor giving too much, and we can celebrate that. We can pass out authentic gratitude to others like candy on Halloween. We can continue (or start) dedicating time to doing what we love, so that we’re refreshed and inspired enough to be a light for others. Like Dan, who told me that when the kids and I will be out on our own adventures this Sunday he’ll be “going straight hog wild on some stinky deer hides,” his eyes sparkling with excitement.
All the love,