Monday, November 14, 2016

A Narrow Bridge

All the world is but a narrow bridge, and the most important thing is not to be afraid.
-Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav

This is the 20,000th blog post I have written this week, but the first one to make it onto the page.

I have jumped off the cliff, and am in freefall.  The only thing keeping me remotely near sanity is physical labor.

The smartest thing the Common Household ever did in all our lives was that on Tuesday evening at around 8 PM we turned off all media and went to bed.   I woke up a couple of times in the night, because I always do, but didn’t look at any media, and actually got a fairly good night’s sleep.  That was good, because I haven’t slept much since.

Wednesday morning the radio said the words, “President-elect Trump.”  I turned off the radio.

Let me say here that for weeks before the election, I expected Mr. Trump to win.  However, on election day, I went to cast my vote for the first woman president, and I felt hopeful.

Despite my expectation, I was profoundly jarred by the result.  I guess I hadn’t truly thought it through. 

Relativity, by M.C. Escher

On Wednesday morning, the world became an M.C. Escher print.  Look at your immediate surroundings: all the lines seem straight, and the ground appears solid.  But start moving around in this new world, and you find that the staircase ends, the ground is now a wall, the wall is now beneath your feet. Everything is in place and yet out of place.

I didn’t know what else to do, so I went outside to rake leaves.  I raked furiously for half an hour, sobbing the entire time.  When I stopped for a moment, I discovered I had rubbed the skin right off my hands in a few spots.

Older Daughter texted me: “I’m scared.”  Grocery shopping in a fog, followed by more sobbing at home.  I drove over to church to try to pray.  All I could get out was one of Anne Lamott’s eternal prayer words: help.  And at the same time I was astonished at my extreme reaction.  Why this deep well of grief for something which I had been expecting?  For something which stands a chance of not affecting my life  huge amount (after all, I’m a white Christian, past child-bearing age, gainfully employed, with proper citizenship papers)?   

A friend said, “It feels like someone died.”  Yes. Is hope dead? Is decency dead?  Is trust dead? Is my faith dead?  I know I feel reluctant to call myself a Christian now.

Instrument of torture: the rivet gun

I thought that the best thing to do would be to get out my gun:  my rivet gun.  (Other people would call it a staple gun, but I’m saying it’s a rivet gun.  Because some of us just have this need to feel powerful in the eyes of others.)

I decided to try to tackle a project I had been putting off: reupholstering the kitchen chairs.  I forced myself into the car for the trip to the fabric store to buy new foam padding. By the grace of God I was able to keep myself pulled together in the store.  It seemed fitting that the coupon I had taken the time to print out applied only to the 79-cent poster board, and not the $50 of foam padding.  As I made my purchase I kept thinking that now that nobody in power gives a damn about the environment, I shouldn’t be buying foam padding at all.

Reupholstering chair seats is a tough job.  It took me about two hours to finish one, and then I was exhausted and quit for the day.  My wrists were in agony and my hands had numerous little cuts from removing the old rivets.  It turned out to be far harder for me to cut 2” foam with scissors than the fabric store employee had implied.  My injuries seemed an appropriate form of self-flagellation.

Then I got the message that the synagogue would be having a hastily-organized worship service of healing.  The service included these words:

Michamocha – facing uncertainty

There was that moment at the Red Sea when our people despaired like never before.  Looking behind, the people saw an enemy coming for them.  Looking ahead, the waters seemed ready to swallow them up.

To stand still was not an option.

Pick up your feet.  Take the next step forward.  Step into the water.

I have no clue what this flower has to do with anything.
But there it is, blooming as if nothing has changed.

A reminder of the everyday miracles than can
help us step into the water.

Note to the reader: In the next few posts I will likely be working out my reaction on this blog.  It's part of my therapy and self-care.  I don't know if I will post a link on facebook or not.  If, for some odd reason, you are interested in my soul-searching, please take the initiative (without the facebook prompt) to come back to this blog again.


Cassi said...

Yes, it does feel as if someone has died. Rob and I have also been trying to identify that feeling in the pit of our stomachs --it is a terrible grief.

But, in the end, we do have to go back out into the world and offer our love and healing. Most assuredly, we have to make certain that we don't just sit down and shut up, because that would allow hate to win easily. I want hate to have to fight hard.

Angie said...

Unlike you, who suspected Trump would win, I was utterly certain he would not. I had convinced myself he did not have the remotest chance. I didn't watch it all Tuesday evening, but went to bed with the realization he could possibly win, but even then, I didn't want to believe it. I wanted to wake up and hear she pulled it off. Instead, I woke up to the devastating news. I still can hardly believe it. But I also know we can't change it. So, I'm working on acceptance. Faith, trust, etc. Peace. Kindness. Civility. Safety for our country. And only one term.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I'm struggling with this as well. I have had to stuff some of my feelings at work and it's taken a toll on my gut. I suspect your church is a little more progressive than mine; I feel like I have to be careful what is said to whom. My kids' godparents, the people we asked to hold us accountable for raising them in the faith, are very far from us on the political spectrum -- to the point that I've been avoiding conversations on Facebook. (They live six hours away.)

Patience_Crabstick said...

I know I'll want to read your further thoughts on the election outcome. Unlike you, I was confident that Hilary Clinton would win, and the profound shock I experienced on Wednesday morning was one of those lifetime before and after moments. Now that Trump appears to be setting up his family as the new royal family of the United States, I feel like we've experienced a coup, rather than an election.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

You and I share so many of the same feelings and thoughts. I actually shut off and went to sleep that night, too, thinking "this might be my last good night's sleep in a normal world, so I better enjoy it." And then rage, fear, sadness, despair--all the mighty emotions have taken over and left behind a hole of hopelessness. And, like you, I live in privilege. What would I do with out online friends who share my values and ideas?

I wish they'd set up a separate state for the 51% of us who want to live in peace and love and harmony. I'd move there in a heartbeat out of dumpland.