What Now? Show Up.
Someday I’ll laugh about how my Canadian visa ran out just in time for the most ridiculous US election of my lifetime (I hope). Someday hasn’t come yet; today it would be nice to have options. But I am glad to be unquestionably a resident of the United States at this juncture of insanity. From where I stand, I’m implicated. I can’t wash my hands of this and say “Oh, my countrypeople are so benighted.” They are. But they’re not “over there,” and they’re not “they;” we’re we. We are here, and we’re here together.
The question I’ve been asking, and that I’ve been hearing from others around me, is “What Now?” There are lots of things to react to and lots of ways to react to them. Many emotions astir. The future is unwritten and uncertain. So what do we do? Each of us, and collectively?
Here are some nuggets of wisdom that have appeared in my inbox over the course of the last ten days:
Nigel Savage, president and CEO of Hazon, said
“In Jewish tradition there is a long-standing idea that when bad things befall us, our response should be teshuva, which means both returning to one's best self, and repenting. … in due course we will need to think, individually and societally, about teshuva; about where we have been less than our best selves, where we have screwed up, where our own behaviors or attitudes, actions or inactions, have led to this outcome.”
Christine Arylo, a women’s leadership advisor, recently held a full moon videocast. This is taken slightly out of context — the video was over an hour long and she said a lot of things — but she suggested that we celebrate the fact that “all of this shadowy shit that had been running under the undercurrent of this world … is finally out in the open.” In other words, the hatred was there. The bigotry was there. The sexism, the misogyny, the racism, the othering, the fear — it was all there, we were just able to pretend that it wasn’t. Now we can’t pretend anymore.
Kate Northrup, an author and entrepreneur, reminded her readers that “focusing on what we don’t want is like dumping fertilizer on weeds.” Her plea is that we take ourselves out of the mindset of perpetual war by standing for things and not against them.
A number of other people with an Internet-based audience chose to ignore the election, at least publicly. And that’s a course of action too. One that I completely understand and that may come from any number of places, including
The best way to deal with this is by just carrying on as usual.
This is such a charged topic; I don’t want to be divisive.
There is a time and place for talking about current events, and my newsletter/website/blog isn’t it. I talk about it with friends and family, not my Internet audience.
All completely valid. My personal take is that this is too big for straight business-as-usual. On the night of the 8th I felt something I haven’t felt since I was a kid in New York on 9/11 — a deep knowing that things had just changed in a very big way. Though no one could say what that meant or what it would look like. The only certainty was that things were different now, and they wouldn’t be the same again.
That’s some pretty challenging shit to deal with, and for the most part I don’t have answers. But one thing does feel right, and worth sharing:
Whatever that means for you in the particular context of your life. Show up.
Show up as a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, a nurse, a parent, a co-worker, a patient, an actor, a writer, a designer, and athlete, a grandparent, a neighbor, a scholar, a child, a mail carrier, a sibling, a grandchild, a cook, a friend, a barista, a bartender, an artist, a romantic partner, an activist. Do your thing in this world. Do it fully. Be there for others, and be there for yourself.
Show up as the best person you know how to be. If we all do, that’ll be a good first step.