By Mary Summerbell
Since the election last November I feel like history has slipped into the Twilight Zone, and me with it. Every day, around me, things still look deceptively the same, while some deep primeval part of me keeps tugging at me, repeating, “Danger! Danger!” It feels as if some insidious, nefarious force crept up on me, invisibly infiltrating reality. And I seem to lack the ability to extricate myself completely from this new, twisted perspective.
Sounds a bit dramatic, I know. I exaggerated a little, for emphasis. Writers do that. But given the current political atmosphere of this country, and the whole world, it really doesn’t seem too far from the truth for me.
I was sick a lot this winter, with a lot of miserable aching, dripping, sniffling, coughing and sneezing, as well as what seemed like a month-long brain freeze during one particular illness. I did a lot of sitting around, not sick enough to be in bed but not well enough to be motivated beyond self-care and the most basic of tasks and scheduled commitments.
Often, I couldn’t focus well enough to read or meditate. So I drifted into watching a lot of T.V., switching back and forth between old classic movies and news programs. It was like shifting between two time warps. I recorded the programs and zipped through them for hours, days, even when I woke up in the middle of the night, fast forwarding through the boring or repetitious parts. In my previous life I very rarely watched daytime television, and I almost never watched the news. Suddenly I was a news junkie. So atypical of me. Scary.
I camped out in my living room, Queen of the Recliner, often sleeping there all night, residing over my kingdom of Kleenex and cough drops and tea, the remote my royal scepter, in command of the magic screen. I don’t know what came over me. I admit, that much television alone is probably toxic enough to push one into mental oblivion. And maybe I underestimated the effect that current events had on me. The juxtaposition of the two worlds, old and new, was fascinating and disturbing – both equally real/unreal at times.
I was sickest the weekend of the inauguration. As I watched the Women’s March on Washington, D.C., I really wanted to be there, or at a march somewhere. I felt like I missed being part of history. I jumped up and down with delight, to see the millions, worldwide, speaking up for human rights. Since then so much has happened politically, I won’t attempt to encapsulate it here. But I noticed, over time, watching things unfold, I’ve had an evolution of thought.
At first I was very anti-Trump. In spite of spiritual lessons to the contrary, I was pleased to see the comparatively smaller attendance at his inauguration, and his obsession with that and with Hillary’s very clear popular vote majority. I was glad that people kept marching, week after week, all over the globe, for all kinds of issues, including protesting the Muslim/travel ban at airports.
I watched some of the senate confirmation hearings, with a very critical eye, hoping the Democrats really had a chance to block some of them. And I wasn’t sad when cabinet members were outed in lies. I watched Trump people I detested, waiting for them to make mistakes. I enjoyed criticizing and making fun of Trump and his supporters. Honestly, I was a little gleefully evil.
Then, one day on a news program, I heard someone say that not wanting the president to succeed was like flying in an airplane and not wanting the pilot to succeed. It wasn’t complete or immediate, but that was the beginning of me seeing things differently and shifting my attitude.
I still don’t like the guy, or most Republican opinions. I’m still very concerned about many issues in his administration and policies. And I feel it’s okay to speak out about them if I choose to. But mostly I don’t want to any more. I keep reminding myself to take a more objective, nonjudgmental, positive view. Because the greatest lesson I’ve learned in this experience is the power of negativity.
Watching these events so much, in such detail, as I did, helped me see that not much is needed to defeat negativity, because negativity is so very self-destructive. It’s counterproductive. Inefficient. I had heard it before, and seen it before, but never “got it” with such clarity as this. I began to think of it, at first, as I saw the signs people carried in the marches – some clearly anti-Trump, anti-Republican. But many others were for something – women’s rights, gay rights, civil rights. Some were cruelly clever while others were about freedom and unity and love. I noticed it hurt in my belly when I read the mean ones, and warmed in my heart reading the kind ones. It was really weird, how fast and clear the shifts.
Looking back, now, it’s extremely obvious to me that Trump and his people have hurt themselves much, much more than any action of the Democrats, or the media, or the protesting people. It’s scary amazing to see it. I don’t ever want to be as negative again as I have been in the past. But it takes time to change, so if you catch me at it, please be kind in your reminders.