We mulled over the menu from a back corner booth of my favorite lunch spot. I always do that even though I have the menu memorized and the staff knows me by first name. There’s something embracing about being in a brick-walled basement of a beer and burger place that goes back 100 + years. Four flat-screen televisions perfectly attached to the basement beams display a continuous stream of silent national news with a corner square of the stock market and a bottom stream of the top headlines. My eyes continuously slipped from the menu to the screen catching heart-stopping views of the EPA Senate Cabinet hearings. I giggled to myself, remembering the note I once found in the brick on the other side of the restaurant, a tiny piece of paper stuck in a small lack of mortar, “Harry’s town”. Of 45 Presidents in the United States, I spend most of my time in the town of the 33rd President, Harry S. Truman. I wonder… what would he be thinking of this day?
We ordered, and the conversation began with a flurry of psychological confessions. Confessions of feeling overwhelmed, fighting feeling depressed, feeling hopeless and fearful. My friend pointed out the necklace she was wearing, it was a simple chain with the centered word “peace.” It was her Christmas gift from her husband to remind her to focus on peace and to let others know that it was truly her goal. I shared that I had told my husband just hours before that I was watching the Senate hearings on television while getting ready to leave. I texted him my angst, and he texted back, “turn it off. It’s rotting your brain.”
Balance, we realized, we need balance. We have to know exactly what is going on, what legislation is being proposed, who is being put in charge of our children’s future existence. Stepping out of the mainstream and refusing to be perfectly content to be a cog in a wheel creates a situation that requires balance.
For every newscast, breaking news post or “here’s the reality” documentary, we need to counterbalance with a reminder of what is still here, what beauty still exists. Between checking the status of House and Senate bills, we need to breathe. We can meditate, pray, dance, go for a walk in the woods, anything that keeps us grounded and sane. No matter how much your world screams at you, promise yourself to take 10 minutes at least once a day to turn it all off, be quiet and present in that moment.
Ask yourself this, what is the one thing that takes you to a place of mental absorption? This is different than being distracted by television or a computer game. This is a moment where you lose yourself in concentration, lose track of time, and lose perception of the world around you in a moment of creativity or a connection to nature. In a recent conversation with my daughter we both realized we experience that playing music. We both play the flute and find ourselves feeling mentally refreshed and soulfully joyful afterwards. My husband and son find this experience sitting in a tree stand in the woods or fishing on a river bank. Paint, write poetry, garden–whatever it is that speaks to your soul, give it time and priority in your life.
For every conversation about the concerns for the future in a time of terrifying unknowns, we need to have the conversations that resemble normal. Talking about the weather isn’t such a bad thing.
For every phone call or letter to our elected officials begging for a yay or nay vote, we need to make a phone call or send a letter of thanks to those who tirelessly work as public servants.
Most of all we have to have gratitude for each day we are alive. Gratitude for each day we are surrounded by the people we love. Each day we are still able to experience the joy of nature in her perfection.
There is actually a term for climate change depression- “Solastalgia”. Treatment? Get involved. Do something that makes a difference. We become depressed when we begin to feel hopeless. Whether you’re helping create a small local recycle drive or protesting an oil pipeline, you’re making a contribution. It all adds up and right now we need everyone to make whatever effort they can. And it’ll make you feel better.
Find balance. Love being alive. Don’t give up. Imagine that necklace, imagine the word peace near, dear, and close.
Audrey L Elder Living Life Outside the Box