A year ago, as we recovered from the 2017 inauguration, I posted this on Facebook to help my friends (and myself) along. A year later, much of it has proven true, even and especially the part about things getting worse before they get better. It’s been crazier than I could have ever imagined, and there’s surely more cray-cray on the way.
With that in mind, I figured I’d update it a bit and publish it where everyone can see it. I hope it helps. ~CW
The thing about being with Mr. Montana, who steeps himself in history from the Greeks to the Civil War to World War II, is the long perspective he brings.
I first learned to do that, to look long, after riding the daily wave of rage and irritation over Bush-era politics with my ex-husband for 10+ years. It was exhausting and crazy-making to watch, listen, and opine every fucking day, resetting and refocusing and refining views over dinner.
Looking back, I’m pretty sure that was my ex’s way of avoiding intimate conversation, with me and within himself. I gotta say, it works really well for that, and that’s not all it’s good for...
There’s always something to get mad about with politics, so it’s an effective way to feed your anger and frustration, and to disengage from your life through intellectual over-involvement.
I also want to point out that, in my experience, the pinhole perspective causes and fosters poor mental health. Depression and anxiety are both parent and child to the close, narrow view.
Which doesn’t mean that keeping a close eye on things is inherently bad (any more than taking a wider and longer view on what’s happening now will make things look any better), but if it’s hurting you, stop. This is a very long road we’re on.
Looking at now through the lens of world history (recent and not) makes it clear that while this is nowhere near as bad as it could be, it’s probably going to get worse – probably a lot worse – before it gets any better.
The key is that it WILL get better. It always does. But that can take generations.
A romance novel, of all things, clued me in on how long the fight against slavery went on and – on and on – on both sides of the Atlantic before it was resolved. The Civil Rights era started decades before it had a name, and enforcing the policies instituted in that time is still a struggle fifty years later.
If you look back over a long time, look out over the whole world, you’ll see (as I did) that there’s nothing new to what’s happening now, it’s only new to us.
This isn’t a call for calm. I can’t offer you something I don’t have.
But if you’re wrestling with distress through the day after beating back your fear every morning after alarming dreams all night, it might help to pull back.
Not pull away, mind you. At least, total detachment has never helped me in the long run. Bad news will leak through the cracks and slosh over the top of any walls you build to shield yourself. A lack of engagement can weaken your ability to navigate change, as it did me.
But do pull back. Where you would choose detachment, opt instead for creating distance. Slow the pace and set yourself apart. Knot the political news hose so you get a trickle instead of the full flow.
Watch the nightly wrap-up news, not the minute-to-minute ticker. Collect the haps once a week instead of once a day. You’ll still get the most important bits while not being subject to the daily (hourly!) ups and downs. I’ve found that WTFJHT is quite good for that.
And if you’d like to take action, large or small, you may just love Jen Hofmann’s weekly Americans of Conscience checklist. I love it because there are actions of every size, she lists what’s gone right as well as where help is needed, and she offers clear direction for sending thanks to the front-line folks who have our backs. You can sign up here.
Ya know, I’ve had a pretty good 48 years here in the US, and as bad as things feel right now, as bad as they are right now, I do believe that good times will come again. I have to believe it.
That said, I recognize that I could live a long time and yet not live to see Obama-era goodness again. Cleaning up after four years with #45 might take a long while.
Because as we’ve seen, like with every change, there’s potential for a flaming, screaming mess of unwelcome surprises, as well as opportunities for honorable action and stunning grace.
And like with all transitions that require sacrifice, we’ll be forever changed by it all. By the end, we might even be, as sung in Springsteen’s wondrous “Philadelphia”, unrecognizable to ourselves.
It won’t all feel good, and it won’t all be good, even though our every effort is to and for the good.
It will take time, it will take effort, and it will take patience. We won't always win, but we will continue to make progress, and, eventually, we'll be better than before.
When you look back – far, far back – you’ll see that’s how it’s always been.
Crys Wood is the copyeditor + proofreader at Paper Crane Publishing, making a career of her innate pickiness and love of words. She lives not-so-quietly in Big Sky Country with her sweet and cranky old man, a cat who is more of the same, and stacks and stacks of books.