I don’t know about you, but much of the news recently is just so simply horrific that I sometimes find it difficult to cope. Part of what stochastic terrorism — and trust me, what Trump and Stephen Miller are doing is stochastic terrorism — does to us is to wear us down, keep us upset, tear us away from our best efforts to improve things and bring into being the world we want.
Ivo Dominguez sometimes discusses our need to wash away from our eyes the evil enchantment that the world tries to spin — the one that would cause us to see division instead of unity, to view the world as broken instead of alive with connection, to believe that what evil is saying to us is true. In my experience, Ivo is correct. This is something at which we need to actively work.
That is one reason why, for me, a daily spiritual practice is important. I have to spend some time (for me, it’s usually first thing in the morning) connected with the Real World, with my Goddesses, with the Powers, & Spirits, & Beings of This Place, and with the reality that exists down deep beneath and behind all of the stochastic terrorism noise. (It’s easy for me, now that I’m retired, to tout the value of daily practice and I fully admit that there have been times — often long stretches of time — in my life when sitting down for daily meditation and magic work simply wasn’t possible. I was a young, single mother, working several jobs, trying to have some kind of a life, figuring out how to pay bills, get the furnace fixed, cook cheap, nutritious dinners, and get enough sleep. And my experience is that doing practice only once every six or nine days or so isn’t exactly worthless, but it’s nothing like what happens when you can show up regularly. Your mileage may vary.)
Other things can help. Art, both created and experienced. Time outside in nature. Good books. Exercise that we enjoy (My BFF has taken up boxing, not coincidentally in these times). Enough sleep. And, at least for me, almost any kind of direct action.
When I was a kid, we never told my mom that we were bored. My mother had one sovereign cure for boredom, and that was work. If you told my mom that you were bored, she’d find you something to do: clean out your closet, peel that bowl of potatoes, weed a row in the garden. And the funny thing was, as much as you’d hate that chore while you were doing it, at the end, you felt better because you could look at something accomplished: a neat closet, a peeled bowl of potatoes for dinner, a nice brown line of dirt between rows of lettuce. It lifted your mood. And, all through my adult life, whenever I’ve been upset about something that seemed insurmountable, I’ve found that tackling some task that I could do, makes me feel more hopeful, even in the face of something I can’t fix at the moment. I can’t get this brief finished, but I can line up the cases I’m going to need to cite. I can’t lose all this weight instantly, but I can go for a walk around the block and come home to peel some carrots for tomorrow’s lunch. I can’t eject Donald Trump from the White House today, but I can write postcards to help elect a Democratic woman in this year’s Virginia elections.
I’ll add that spending time with like-minded people, especially if they are action-oriented, can help. It’s why I drive back to Capitol Hill once a month to meet with my Witches’ Working Group. And, although I’ve only been here in this very red county for a few months, I’ve been able to meet and start to work with two really neat women who want to get Democratic women elected to office. And INTJ, loner extreme, Greta-Garbo-I-Vant-to-Be-Left-Alone hermit that I am, I come back from those meetings hopeful, determined, ready to return to the Resistance.
What do you do to remain hopeful? What inspires you to keep going? Please share in comments.
And, if you are feeling hopeless, terrorized, afraid, I’ll offer you my hand. And Wendell Berry’s wonderful poem:
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Look, we are going to get through this, just as our ancestors got through the Civil War, or World War II, or slavery, or crossing the ocean in steerage, or the Depression, or the Potato Famine. Evil never wins in the end. Rosie Cotton does, believe you me, have the last dance.
Now go out and get her some ribbons for her hair.
You don’t have to light all of the signal fires all by yourself; just, as Mrs.Whatsit says, go do the next right thing.