Crazy-a#@ Horse

fish-resist-crazy-horse-320Every 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.

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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

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