(Author’s note, 2021 — I wrote this over four years ago, trying to find the silver lining. I was wrong about Trump. He did not rise to the job. But I stand by my right to have held onto hope, and still do. -Randye, 2/27/21)
. I am not a Pollyanna.
Well, maybe a little bit.
But, two days after the Election, I’m tired of feeling my stomach in knots over something I can no longer control. I’m tired of anger. And I’m sick of literally losing sleep over the reality of Donald Trump as President.
So I am choosing to hope. I am choosing love. And I’m surprised at how many people are trying to talk me out of it.
Maybe you are celebrating Trump’s election this week. Maybe, like me, you are in one of the first four stages of grief: Denial (“this can’t be real!”) Anger (“It’s not fair! Who is to blame?”), Bargaining (“Is this bad news reversible?”) , Depression – (“I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”)
But, sooner or later, we’re all going to have to get to a (guarded, realistic) stage 5: Acceptance – (“It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”)
And I, for one, want to get there ASAP. Like today. Because I’m just so tired of the anger and anxiety. This is taking some work, truth be told. And I’m amazed that every time I try to say something hopeful, others are pointing out that I’m crazy to be getting a good night’s sleep.
Okay, so maybe I’m a Nellie Forbush: They call me a cockeyed optimist….
Don’t tell me I’m sticking my head in the sand. Hey, I fought for Hillary. I voted. I sat through (playing drinking games, sure) all those debates to make certain I had the right candidate. And sure, I’m very worried about what might happen next.
But there’s a difference between useful worry/anxiety (when you can take action to fix or prevent something) and pointless worry/anxiety (when all you get is the satisfaction that hey, at least you were smart enough to worry about it!).
Useful anxiety about fire leads you to change the batteries in the smoke alarm,blow out unattended candles, and have an escape plan for the family.Pointless anxiety is what happens when you lose sleep anyway, worrying about said fire when you’ve done everything you can to prevent it. In that case, all you get is bloodshot eyes and a stomach in knots.
How do you get past that pointless anxiety? You focus on hope, and love, and choose to believe that it will all be okay. Maybe you stay away from Facebook and Twitter if it’s making you feel worse, and you choose to play with your kids and laugh with friends again – at least for today. It’s called healing. And faith.
Listen, like you, I’ve not had a charmed life. Bad things do happen.
So I don’t tell myself, “It’s gonna be fine.”I like to have realistic mantras.
Instead, this is what soothes me:
“Whatever happens, I’ll/we’ll handle it somehow”
This has been true each time I’ve lost a job, ended a relationship, hospitalized my son, you name it. The fear of these things happening has done me no good unless it has led me to actions to help prevent it.
And so, now, with the election results a reality, I choose realistic hope for our country.
Here are five reasons to choose hope right now, or as soon as you are ready. ‘Cause maybe you need a little sleep too.
- America is still great. Sure, democracy is messy. Freedom is messy. Letting anyone vote, with no “entrance exam” or knowledge of our governing system required, can lead to votes we’re not sure about. But that’s our system. And, in theory, it’s the best one we’ve got.
- We’ve weathered a lot of storms as a nation, including presidents we don’t agree with. This is a country with much to be ashamed of in its history – Slavery/Civil War, McCarthyism, Prohibition, you name it. We’re also a nation that rose to the challenge after Watergate, 9-11, the Depression, and Wrold Wars. And we’ve had presidents that were, let’s face it, absolutely terrible – maybe we knew it at the time, maybe only in the hindsight of history. And we’re still here.
- We are a nation of fighters – with Free Speech. Maybe our system of checks and balances will prevent Trump from rash decisions and actions. It’s easy to make campaign promises, from the stupid to the sublime, but for better or worse it isn’t easy to implement them. Yeah yeah I know – the same party has control in both houses of Congress now, and the Supreme Court is in crisis. But I can’t imagine we’ll sit still as our rights are taken away. And we are allowed to say what’s on our minds. The people will be heard.
- Maybe Trump will surprise us. To me, this is a (very) long shot, as he’s not proven himself to be a man who listens to anybody’s advice, ever – including his own campaign managers. But I’ve got to hope he will, in this extremely serious and powerful position, choose to rise above his reality-show mentality and get serious about issues like climate change and racism. Yeah. I’ve got to hope- with eyes wide open, of course.
- I still believe people are good at heart. Yes, the words of Anne Frank get me
through, even though we all know how her story turned out. When I need a boost as to our future, I take a Love Actually moment and notice how people hug and greet each other in airports; I take my baby granddaughter to a playground and watch how much parents (of all colors, languages, and garb) parents adore their children and connect with each other; I listen for laughter, even as we are in pain; dance to music; share a meal with people I love and know how much our relationship means to us. And take heart, that all over this country and this world, most of us want to love our families and friends, do good work, and value each other.
So, dear fellow American: Choose hope. Choose love. This won’t be easy for any of us, and it may or may not be the outcome we wanted for this election, but we’re in this together, and remember: whatever happens, we’ll handle it somehow. And try to remember that love wins. I do believe that, and always will.
And even though I’m avoiding social media right now until the conversation gets more, um, diverse, I do love this tweet from Lin-Manuel Miranda:
Go through all stages tonight.
You are allowed to feel however you like.
Take stock of your heart.
See you tomorrow.
We are all still here.
We’ll somehow be okay. We’ll fight the good fight to make sure we are.