I woke up this morning with great reluctance. After staying up late enough to know the outcome of the election, I didn’t really want to face the day. I thought, maybe I’ll just take the day off. Maybe I’ll just tell everyone I couldn’t write a blog post, I couldn’t come up with anything to say to my yoga class, I couldn’t show up in the ways I usually do.
As the darkness of the day faded into night, I was still searching for the words.
I thought of a text my friend sent me just a few weeks ago:
Her: Can I ask you a practical question?
Me: Of course
Her: Do you ever get tired of writing so many positive things?
Me: Ha. No.
It’s true; I am an eternal optimist. Every word I write is real, nothing is forced or fake. I thrive by finding the silver linings, by hoping for the best, and learning what I can from even the most dismal of circumstances.
But today, I was struggling.
I spent much of my day in quiet, typing away at my laptop in my favorite coffee shop, which seemed especially dark. I wrote an angry blog post (not this one), and heavily considered the relationships I have with people who voted for Trump. I wondered how I could explain to them how hurtful and personal this feels; how it actually frightens me.
I led a somber and tear-filled yoga class this evening, and went into my typical spiel about the fight or flight response, and how yoga teaches us to slow down, observe our emotions and reactions, and respond with more intention. Today I thought about fighting, for sure, and I even thought about fleeing. I’m certain I had moments in the third reaction we tend to go to: victimhood. But, as I told my students, that fourth reaction is the one we all practice for – it’s that of acceptance. It’s staying and breathing, and finding a way to work and to thrive even within the constraints of an uncomfortable or challenging position.
Acceptance does not mean giving up; it does not mean you just go limp or back down - that's victimhood. Acceptance means re-strategize. It means stay present, get curious, and make it work. It means find a way to thrive within a challenging position.
I have a lot of questions, ones that I intend on asking the Trump-voters in my life. I need to know what this man offers that is SO GREAT, it is worth the embarrassment of our nation, the great potential for strained international relations, and the massive setbacks this will (and already has) caused in the acceptance and equality of all people. I need to know how we are overlooking his appalling track record with women, and how my loved ones can claim to respect me and vote for him at the same time.
Furthermore, I’d love to know if this offer – the one that’s worth this big trade-off – do you think he will really deliver on it?
I feel skeptical about finding satisfying answers to these questions, but I genuinely want to understand. I will listen intently with hope that they will offer me the same courtesy. Because while I could stay angry and resist and fight this thing, the reality is, our country has spoken. Our democracy has shown the people’s choice, and I live here too. I will gripe and complain with like-minds, and I will listen and learn from those who disagree. I will seek solutions with everyone. Because we all have to coexist - we ALL have to fix this thing - and it will be a hell of a lot easier to do it with some grace.
I thought for a while that I would move abroad if Trump won; an idea I never really teased out because I didn’t think for a second it would come to fruition.
So today I asked myself – should I leave?
But what does that accomplish? The U.S. will always be my home, and I will always return here. So, I leave and come back to an even more broken nation, for which I did nothing to help? No. I will to stay, and I will get louder as I stand up for the rights of ALL people. I will continue to be obnoxiously optimistic and work on making people happier with their lives, one by one. Because that is what I can do, and because any change starts with the individual. It starts with quelling those fears that cause you to react and feel the need to protect yourself instead of acting with trust and acceptance; the fears that, I think, won in our nation this week.
The final question I asked myself today, and through the several drafts of this post, is who do I want to be in this moment? Do I want to stay silent? Do I want to be angry and call Trump-voters idiots and not even try to understand their reasoning? Do I want to disown the people in my life that are different than me and just surround myself with people who think like me? Or do I want to seek solace in my community, but not be afraid to bridge the gaps outside of it? Because I’ll point out the obvious – even if Hillz won, we have a nation divided. And there’s a lot of work to do to bring it back together.
This is the darkness before the dawn, peeps. It’s scary because it’s the unknown (albeit, with a very bad preview). It’s a gray transition zone, the part where we’ve left the familiar trapeze bar and soar through the air, hoping and praying we’ll grab onto the next one. It’s a messy in-between, a place that offers a lot of potential for growth - a place where we find out what we’re made of, and learn to fuckin pivot.