It’s been a helluva’ year. Both my darling dogs passed away, over the Rainbow Bridge, as they say, and now my brother is gone. Then the elections knocked me on me on my rear end and left my hair looking permanently plugged into an electric socket – frizzier than usual.
At this time of year, we reflect on our losses and gains. We question an election that left many of us with eyes bugging out of our heads- and some who voted for Trump, smiling. Either way, we look back and miss relationships that have passed on or question why they went sideways.
But loss gives us wisdom the hard way. Families in disarray struggle with differences and letting go of loved ones. Oh, how I long for those hilarious days with my brother. I just never thought I’d turn around one day and find him gone. He was always there. And I never enter my house without missing my bouncing pooches, tails wagging at my door.
How to deal with these difficult feelings? Whether you feel bamboozled by politics – or not – we must continue to care about the common good. Take an inventory of your own part in the problems. I wonder, for instance; did I not participate enough in the elections? Could I have visited my brother more often? Should I have talked more with my mom before she died? Take responsibility for the ruptures around you. As Margaret Atwood says, “war is what happens when language fails.”
Grieve, learn from mistakes, communicate with conviction and curiosity,
rail at the gods and get involved in rebuilding our inner and outer world.
Francis Weller writes, in “The Wild Edge of Sorrow,” “at times, grief invites us into a terrain that reduces us to our most naked self. We find it hard to meet the day, to accomplish the smallest of tasks.”
But involvement is the cure. In a town called Roseto, Pennsylvania, researchers found that the rate of heart disease was markedly lower than it was in surrounding communities. They studied smoking, exercise, diet, medical services etc. None of these could account for the difference. The only thing that kept these people from heart disease was belonging. Now referred to as the ‘Roseto effect’.”
We have to stick together. Engagement is the key, not complacency. It’s good to grieve but also essential to grab life by the balls (not on the Christmas tree). Do something helpful in our world and our relationships. Norman Solomon says, “We’re at the start of a protracted crisis that could become cataclysmic. We need progressive unity.” We, the people, do have power. If we would just use it before we lose it.
But there’s something in the human condition that doesn’t wake up until it’s shook up.
Don’t wait for the sky to fall to act. How do we help shift our personal and political planet towards peace while it teeters on its axis?
Creating a good, safe globe requires a bag of tricks, and not just from Santa’s bag. We might send letters or walk in rallies. Talk with people of opposing opinions. Get engaged in group brainstorming; go to Sacramento or City Council. Or for god’s sake, at least bake cakes and keep conversations going. Call an old friend and clear up a conflict. Apologize to your mother. Pray or meditate. But do something to repair life.
Just last week I learned again that staying involved and not being passive was important. I mentioned my brother’s death on Facebook. It seemed like a small act, but unexpectedly, dozens of kind comments helped me cry and fall apart at my desk. If I hadn’t extended myself, I wouldn’t have received such support. It cleared my heart — like a windshield wiper.
No matter what your political persuasion, personal loss or gains, remember that in just one second everything we love can vanish. We have to work together like ants.
Hold those you love close. And do something good for the common good.