Many are calling on this to be a time of healing in the country. But I think it’s going to be an intense time of personal healing too.
A New Dawn, A New Day…
For some, yesterday was a new dawn for America. A chance to restore the country’s place in the world and in the hearts of so many of us who felt disenfranchised. For others, it was the dawn of a nightmare scenario, where “their side” was no longer in power. And, for some, it was just another day or some shade in between. But one of the themes that kept on popping up was a call for healing. What does healing a country mean? Can we heal the nation? Does it mean moving on quickly? Does it mean holding people accountable? These are all big questions that I don’t feel qualified to speak about right now.
However, I have been thinking about healing. Personal healing. I had a good chat with a friend of mine who I do not always agree with. It brought to a head thoughts that have been churning in me for a long while.
The last four years have been a rough time for me, my friends, my family… so many. It’s been rife with strife, disconnection, and disenfranchisement. Personally, I know I have been caught up in modes of thinking and ways of acting that I’m not always proud of. Most of which I did realize at the time. Some of which I only saw upon reflection. Some of it, I think, was justified, but it doesn’t mean I desire for it to continue.
After The War
The feeling I have is what I’d liken to a soldier returned home after the war. That’s not to denigrate or diminish that actual experience. It’s just a handy metaphor. I know I had to numb parts of me to protect myself. I had to build up personal walls, even as some longstanding walls crumbled and left me feeling like a raw nerve. I had to take up weapons because not to do so felt wrong. But now I want to throw those weapons down.
But even that thought haunts me. The “fight” isn’t over, is it? Nothing is magically fixed. The issues we’ve grappled with continue and still affect my life and life of people I love. But I also realize that there are limits I want in my own life. There are limits to what I can do both in ability and emotionally. I do not have the sort of brain that can exist in a place of anger permanently. It’s too destructive. That doesn’t mean I think anger shouldn’t still exist. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think politicians and organizers, and advocates should stop fighting. I acknowledge the excellent work they do—the fact they are needed. I don’t think my life can be aligned to trying to be in the thick of it.
Selfish? No, I’m Allergic
This triggers thoughts that I’m selfish. That line between selfishness and protecting your sense of self can be blurry, can’t it? I never want to put my head in the sand or turn away when people are in need or hurting. But I do think we each must acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses. We all have roles to play in the world. We all have gifts and talents. I realize that this is where I want to put my energy.
I want to go forward, not in anger but hope. I still want to strive for a better world, a better future, and a better nation. But I want to do it in ways that are constructive and not destructive. I want to build bridges instead of burning them. I want to strive for connection and not foster disconnection. I think there needs to be people like that. Just as I believe there needs to be people who are angry. People who cause change through incitement and challenge. People who hold the line and hold accountable those who need to be held accountable.
Life is a Highway?
I don’t think it’ll be easy. Learned habits are hard to shake off. Fleeing to the safety of “your side” is comfortable. Anger is easy. Understanding isn’t. Because understanding requires you to determine when to reach out your hand and when to not reach it out, it requires you to examine the world and others around you and decide if they should be in your life or they should not. Most of all, I want to be open to being challenged and presented with new ideas and to not see that as betraying my core ideals. I want a life of nuance and complexity. I want a life of logic and passion.
I titled this journal “A Few Small Repairs” after the Shawn Colvin song. But the truth is, this process is probably more akin to a long highway. You fix this section, you repair this bridge, and you improve this bit… and by the time you’re done, you have to revisit the areas you’ve already been to again. The process never ends. I guess it’d be more accurate to call this journal “Life is a Highway.” But wow, that seems way too cheesy. So, I’ll stick with what I have.