Take a deep breath.
Now another one.
There are a few things that probably won’t happen today or tomorrow.
The world probably won’t end, believe it or not. You’ll probably wake up in your bed tomorrow, same as always. You won’t open your curtains to look out on an apocalyptic wasteland. I mean, I’m just talking probabilities.
You probably won’t have any or all of your civil liberties immediately ripped out of your hands. That takes time and it follows a certain protocol, the outcome of which is dependent on many more complex factors and much more time than what will happen within the next few hours.
The time change takes, and the protocol change follows, are why the United States of America is a good country to live in. That nothing happens overnight, based on a single factor as small as one person or another getting a new job, is a very, very good thing. That’s why we live here. That is why we continue to learn and think and vote.
Your series of mini heart attacks online probably won’t change much, although they might shorten your life a little.
Legislation happens, in some way, because of ideas, attitudes, and habits that begin small. So take care of your neighbors today. Show kindness to somebody you normally wouldn’t agree with today. That’s the biggest difference you can make. Vote based on how you already live, instead of voting based on how you think everybody else should live.
Don’t simplify anything that might be complicated in somebody else’s experience.
Read Rebecca Armendariz’s piece today about ghosts and psychics and mediums.
Desperate times, desperate measures. I recently took my first-ever writing class at the Newberry Library, a research establishment housed in a beautiful building next to a park in the Old Town/River North neighborhood. The class was in the basement. The writer teaching our class, Enid Powell, did not stop talking except to ask us to write and to listen to us read. Her eyes were bright and excited. She gave us lessons in overcoming obstacles, in pulling back the cloud of disbelief to find inspiration.
Every process that leads us to truth is spiritual in nature; we’re dragged out of ourselves. We come to know things that we could not have known without this process. I don’t necessarily believe that inspiration, or truth, always comes to us from the outside - in any case, I would never say I knew for sure one way or another. But it takes a desperate suspension of disbelief to get us to a place where we can recognize truth humbly, use it to fabricate beauty.
Ms. Powell urged us to dialogue with our writer’s block. “Ask it questions, and then imagine what it might say,” she said. “When you cannot think of any more questions, make a deal with it. ‘If you let me write this, I will ____.’” She paused. “You can dialogue with more than just a situation. You can carry on these conversations with characters in your story, with people you know, with yourself.”
The other night, I used this exercise to talk with somebody who died before I was born, who I never got the chance to meet, but who has been an important “character” in my life story nonetheless. I asked her questions. She replied. I let the pen flow freely across the page. I’m not a medium, but this, this art is the medium. Like empathy, it is the closest thing to omniscience a human being will ever have.
Use it wisely.
Humanism does not consist in saying: ‘No animal could have done what I have done,’ but in declaring: ‘We have refused what the beast within us willed to do, and we seek to reclaim man wherever we find that which crushes him’.
I don’t know what you’ve been hearing, but I can tell you that I have not been coming home with grocery bags containing nothing but chocolate milk and raisins.
I have not been lonely. Listless, perhaps — which I think is related to my anemia, because the insides of my lower eyelids have been white instead of vibrant pink as they should be. Billie Holiday has not been keeping my neighbors up at odd hours, nor is my cat the only living being I’ve seen in days. I don’t even have a cat, I didn’t get one the week after, I don’t know what you’ve been hearing.
My friends — the ones you didn’t like, that made a few light-hearted jokes at your expense over drinks that time, haven’t been calling me in the middle of the day to read me cryptic sonnets about the end of summer, the autumn of my discontent. There is no autumn of my discontent. In fact the weather has been gorgeous. I have been wearing shorts to the park in the morning on my run. Yes, I took up running, I don’t know what you were told. You knew me as a fixture of your secondhand sofa, a skinny line of poetry scribbled against the wall outside your favorite coffee shop in the morning as you ordered us both a latte. It was convenient for you to pretend I had no ambitions, no hopes or dreams that could not be poured into a cup small enough to fit in your palm.
I don’t know what you’ve been hearing. I have not been taking walks on my own every Saturday afternoon. I have not been mulling wine or baking muffins, I have not been turning into my mother, who, since you’ve never met her, hardly deserves this much scorn. I changed the flowers on the mantel and did the dishes. I washed the sheets.
When I called you it was to ask after your great-aunt Melissa’s health, since you told me six months ago she had suffered through a few migraines. Nobody had to take my phone away after that. Nobody confiscated my postage stamps.
I don’t know what you’ve been hearing, but I’ve been happy. I smile at everyone I see on the street. I’ve been asked my opinion, kissed, loved, and I’ve never once thought of you.