Every morning I wake up somewhat panicked. Now, as someone who suffers with anxiety, this isn’t necessarily all that out of the ordinary. However, ever since the election (all those months ago now), it’s gotten worse. The first thing I often do is reach for my cell phone and begin sifting through news articles, looking for the next hasty tweet or abhorrent executive order. It’s not good.
The comedian John Mulaney described our current predicament as chasing a horse in a hospital and how none of us know what the horse will do next. And the crazy thing, he continues, is that none of us know together. “We’ve never not known, together.”
This is true. We don’t know – together.
The paradox of our situation is that in the last several months, together, we have joined hands, and together, we have formed alliances to fight climate change, to stand up for the rights of women and the LGBTQ community. Together, we have felt stronger and more committed to humanity and to truth. In all honesty, I have never felt saner or more confident in my beliefs.
I grew up feeling like a misguided soul among an immediate family of staunch conservatives. I was “the one thing” in a series of others that was different, as Big Bird would say. Perhaps, I was simply uninformed, or just a bleeding heart liberal with lofty ideals. Even though my so-called ideals were based on knowledge or even downright truth, somehow that didn’t seem to matter to others. Anything “liberal” was dirty and in some cases, heretical.
The dictionary defines the word liberal as “open to new ideas and behavior; a willingness to discard traditional values.” I would take being “that one different thing” any day if it means staying open.
The astonishing fact is that we now have a horse in a hospital, in part due to so many terrified individuals who aren’t open to new ideas and behavior.
Now, there’s more to the story of this insane horse than this, of course. I just read Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance in preparation for teaching part of the memoir in my composition courses. Mr. Vance offers his perspective of growing up in Appalachia, in a community of self-labeled hillbillies. He explains the circumstances which have led to so many of the white working class in that stretch of the country to feel disenfranchised. So there’s lots to understand and figure out regarding who elected a horse to run amuck inside our institutions.
Nonetheless, I can’t seem to wake up anymore without this feeling that I “need to know” what’s happening now. I can’t miss a single detail. If a horse is going to start operating, I better be prepared!
So at this point, when I can sit back and acknowledge what’s happening to me, that I am being overtaken with my own fear, my own utter lack of control, I can begin to pull in the reins. I can begin relinquishing control because in fact, I have quite little. It’s true. I just have my little life that I can preserve and protect, over which I have some sovereignty.
Therefore, I will remember to cherish and maintain my small piece of land, my extraordinarily tiny state. I will remember that I am separate from the whole, that what goes on out there doesn’t need to usurp what goes on inside me. I can give myself time to let it go, to unplug. I can choose not to let a crazy-ass horse into my own precious and sacred hospital.