Today is grim.
I am reminded of the comedian Patton Oswalt’s recent remarks about his wife’s death:
“If they would call it a numb slog instead of a healing journey, it would make it a lot fucking easier! Because when they call it a healing journey and it’s just a day of you eating Wheat Thins for breakfast in your underwear, it’s like, ‘I guess I’m fucking up my healing journey.’ But if they would say you’re going to have a numb slog, instead you’d go, ‘I’m nailing it!’”
If you’re awake, you’re at work, and you’re not actively freaking out – welcome to the numb slog.
I wrote an article once, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, about survivalism, in which I quoted an Argentine writer who offered advice for weathering a deep crisis like the one in his own country in the early 2000s. He had many specific tips about what items to stockpile, but something more interesting than that: rather than suggesting that people learn knife skills or combat or mountaineering, he suggested that it was most helpful to have a good job, a healthy bank account, retirement plans, and all the normal, everyday, boring, middle- to upper-middle class trappings and marks of security. I was surprised to read this; I thought he would say I needed to learn to hunt squirrels. But no. I mention this because it would be totally reasonable right now either to retreat into a private world and love your loved ones for a little while, or to drastically change your life and pursue full-time activism – but either way, you will need all the resources you can get, whether that means buying someone you know a ticket to god-knows-where to get an abortion (or contributing to their legal defense for getting one), or funding your own activism by being able to afford your own plane tickets to the places you are needed. Collective change is what is needed in the long game. But for the immediate future: if you have enough privilege to have access to these kinds of resources already, keep at it – or you think you can get them, please do. So keep slogging.
It does appear that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, which I mention because it does seem to make a psychological difference that slightly less than half, rather than slightly more than half, of America is totally onboard with (or totally indifferent to) racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and basically every other -ism we’ve got. Less than half. Like 0.2% less. We live in fallible human brains that are rife with cognitive biases, so take this one and run with it: while normally 0.2% of the population doesn’t mean much, it seemingly does when that 0.2% is situated right at the middle.
There are plenty of other articles to read right now encouraging you to take care of yourself, love your loved ones, etc., and they’re not wrong. But everybody’s different, and for some of us, retreating just makes it worse. Like, if massages were free right now, I would decline; this would not help. Neither will cups of tea. Dogs are good people, maybe talking to dogs would be better. But if you’re here, quick guess, you may be a work-oriented person. And working at 40% capacity when you’d rather be at 100% is just how you slog.
Inauguration Day is not until January 20th. There is time to slog through for yourself, and for others, and to find many meaningful actions you can take, even if you are not functioning at your full power.
You are in the right place to keep pushing forward as best you can.
Good Morning America. Welcome to Your White Supremacy, by Ijeoma Oluo
Photo by Jean Gerber for Unsplash.