Standing Up

“Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

~ Rumi

Ah, Rumi!

One of those trusty, handy poets who always have just the right thing to say, to remind me, to bolster me, to encourage and prod me into action.

I’m writing, aren’t I?

Man, it has been a rough couple of months. But I can only write about one thing at a time (well, maybe, we’ll see…) and today it has to be the election.

The last 6 months, as things heated up, got particularly awful, didn’t it? For me I got hooked back into FB and Twitter. Every day there was a revelation that was worse than the next. From the time of the first debate through November 8 the screaming inside my head was so loud and disruptive that I was at a loss as to what to do. The month of October also brought a different problem into my life, and coupled with the election, well, my stress level, my serenity and my attempts at equanimity were all challenged beyond what I felt was reasonable.

I was scared, depressed, grieving and lost. It couldn’t  possibly get worse.

November 8 it got worse.

I didn’t go anywhere to watch and celebrate the returns that night.  I thought I’d just go to my regular Tuesday night meeting and then come home and enjoy the victory parties, the final crack in that ceiling. I turned on NPR about 5:30 and settled in. When I left the house at 7 I listened in the car, and sat to the last possible second before going in to the meeting. For the first time I was feeling uneasy.

Mind you, I had stood in line for 2 hours that morning waiting to vote. The mood was festive and celebratory. People whooped when they came out of the garage that housed the machines, and many were crying. I cried myself…what a day!

What a day indeed.

At the meeting I noticed several people scrolling through their phones. I noticed faces becoming noticeably more ashen. I resisted the temptation to look, focussed all my powers of attention on the leader, on what people were saying, but when the meeting ended the word was out that Florida had been lost and the disbelief started to set in.

I had been invited to a victory party and I thought about going at this point; I wanted to be with my friends. But I also knew that I was the only alcoholic in the bunch and that there would be open bottles there. I felt shaky and unsure that would be a good move. I knew I wouldn’t stop and go out of my way to buy alcohol, but being around open booze? And can I just say I am around open booze all the time and it is NEVER a problem. And yet here I was, not trusting myself .

It was that bad.

The fact that I was in such depth of denial about the possibility of a Trump victory does not make me happy.   Noting that I live in Los Angeles doesn’t assuage my feeling of pure lunk-headedness. How out of touch am I?

And yet, as I saw the voting numbers coming in, the amount of people who just didn’t bother to vote…I became enraged. I have voted in every election that I have been allowed to, it is one of my favorite inalienable rights. And that some people just didn’t bother is ludicrous to me.  That people were still speaking of the false equivalency of the two candidates, how they didn’t like either one, and thus didn’t vote to assuage their “conscience”, when so many of their fellow citizens NEEDED their help and support, needed to be stood up for, needed them to vote “against” even if they couldn’t wholeheartedly vote for!

I’m just starting to get my feet back under me. I’m just starting to let go of the depression and get into action. Small stuff now…making phone calls, sending money (Planned Parenthood, ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Stop DAPL…..there are countless places to send a few bucks to.) As Rumi says, “there are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground”; to stand for our fellows, to stand for our country, to shout out in the darkness that Trump and his minions are not OK, that this aberration came from complacency and fear and that neither one has hold of me (and I only speak here for me, my blog right?) any longer.

In AA we talk a lot about getting into action and how we can be of service to our fellows. We also have traditions that don’t allow for using that platform as some sort of bully pulpit, and thank god for that. But we are all human beings, and some of us are lucky to live in the U.S., and being of service to our fellows includes all of our fellows.

And how do we start? Like Rumi said. Or perhaps like another favorite poet, David Whyte, says:

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something

To find
another’s voice,
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

There are a lot of steps I don’t want to take but fear I will have to in the coming months/years. I’m trying to get ready. I’m trying to only pay attention to credible news sources. I’m  keeping my eyes and ears open for ways that I can physically show up in big ways, as well as staying open to the small ways…a bully here, a racist remark there, a sexist move over there. I am engaging in conversations with women, with other white  and straight people, about how we can honestly stand for those that stand to lose the most: immigrants, LGBTQ, Muslims, people of color.

My god, where is the humanity? How did we come to this?

I didn’t want to do any of this, I was complacent enough to not even consider that this new world order was even remotely possible, given the buffoonery of his candidacy. But he was very smart and manipulative, and even as he begins to walk back on campaign promises and cabinet appointments the faithful are still with him, the hoodwinked. There is no satisfaction to me that they will pay for their trust, and pay dearly with loss of health coverage, minimum wages gains, overtime pay…an endless list of recessive policies that will make everyone hurt even more that they are now.

But a friend of mine told me that now I can begin to understand the BLM version of being “woke”, because as a woman I am clearly now a member of a repressed minority in a way I never understood before.

And it is frightening and infuriating.

But it’s my own fault, and I know now. I can’t unknown…I only have a choice whether to act or not. To stand up or not.

I’m standing.

I take one step, I kneel and kiss the ground, I take another step…


Add yours →

  1. The waves of pain coming from across the Atlantic have been almost palpable in recent days and weeks. Sending you inadequate words to say that I hear you and that I share that pain, outrage and fear for our world. Thank you for sharing that David Whyte poem which I don’t think I’d read before, or if I had, I hadn’t appreciated its resonance so greatly.

    I’ve been reading Maria Popover’s writing at brainpickings a fair bit recently. If you don’t already do so, you might appreciate it too. Thanks for writing. It’s good to know you are here. Prim xx

    • That would be Maria Popova – confound predictive text!

    • Thank you Prim….

      I had to write this becuas sit felt like until I said SOMETHING I would be useless. The long, drawn out election did not help my output ver the last few months….it has been so ugly here, so scary. I don’t intend to make this a political blog, but I have learned that acknowledging my feelings has to be a priority.

      I LOVE brainpickigs! I have been a subscriber for probably 3-4 years, somewhere in there. The things she finds and offers…amazing. She has turned me on to countless people and I have realized so many new things about people I thought I knew. In case you hadn’t heard it, she does a lovely interview with Krista Tippet OnBeing.

      Today is our Thanksgiving, and I am thankful of moving ahead as we do…because we have no choice. I am grateful beyond measure for my sobriety, and all the wonderful people I have met, both physically and thru the being one. I appreciate your comment…it’s been hard. I vented. Now to work!

      • I will check out that Krista Tippet interview, thanks. I’m pretty sure you introduced me to On Being, many moons ago! Isn’t it rather lovely that we’ve known each other for such a long time now? It’s something I cherish, too. And off to work we go! Xx

  2. You have so beautifully described how I feel also. I’ve never been one to pray much but I do now, that somehow we’ll all come out of this ok. I worry about war, whether my granddaughters will have the right to choose for their own bodies, how the poor will get poorer. How could this happen, how? Belle said she thinks it’s like grieving, sad then ok for awhile then sad, it’s such an overwhelming feeling of distress. It’s just still so unbelievable. We’re standing.

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