These days, as I try to negotiate our country’s strange, new reality, I find myself engaging in strange, new, self-soothing behaviors. They fall into three categories:
EXCESSIVE SELF-PRAISE: When I manage to accomplish the simplest of tasks, like changing the battery in a smoke detector or sewing on a button, I tell myself: Hey, I’m like some kinda genius!
FORCED BELIEF IN COMMONALITIES: Oftentimes, my one point of commonality with a person whose opinions I find especially heinous is that we both like dogs. So when I encounter those types of opinions, instead of flying into a homicidal rage or grasping onto the belief that there is no hope for humanity, I force these words into my mind: I. Like. Dogs. Then I imagine the other person likes dogs, too, meaning that, despite all evidence to the contrary, he or she has at least one positive quality.
BLATANT SELF-DECEPTION: About six times a day, I read or hear something indicating that our government hates human life and the planet. Sometimes when I read or hear these things, I say to myself, Oh, wow – that’s so awesome! Of course I don’t feel that way at all, but pretending to gives me a teeny blast of joy for about half a second.
These three strategies share a common thread ~ they are all attempts to confuse myself into some sense of comfort.
My chosen soothing activities are similarly ludicrous. For example, I’ve been taking pictures of people’s eyeballs. What I’ve learned is that eyeballs are extremely reflective. That annoyed me at first, but now I’m going with it. The key is to put fun stuff in the background.
See? Eyeballs are cool and everything’s great! Tra la! 😸
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not ignoring reality. I’m not saying don’t pay attention or #resist (for, as I am slowly learning, #allthingsmustbehashtagged). My sole intention is to keep myself sane enough to exist in this toxic environment.
So here’s my little bit of advice: in the midst of all the action you choose to take, whether it’s calling representatives, marching, writing letters, creating subversive art, running for office, or whatever, grant yourself permission to take a break from the live action carnage every once in a while. Praise the hell out of yourself for no reason. Take pictures of weird things. Remember that everyone (probably) has at least one redeeming quality. Pretend, if only for the span of a heartbeat, that social justice and the health of our planet mean nothing to you. Then, when your strength is bolstered and your heart & mind relaxed, return, refreshed, to the resistance.
[Whoops…I meant #returnrefreshedtotheresistance. Still on the learning curve, folks.]