I’m grateful for a reader’s comment about Axes to Grind, reminding me that one way to cope with post-election anxiety is to “chop wood, carry water.”
In fact, that’s what I’ve been doing since about three in the morning of November ninth, when it became apparent that Donald Trump had won the election, until January twenty-first, the day after he was inaugurated. I’ve been chopping wood and carrying water in a deep funk of disbelief, a fair amount of fear, and a great deal of gratitude that I live in Vermont.
During that time of mourning, I turned off social media, turned the dial to classical music and started buying the New York Times. Reading the news allows me to choose what and how much information I can tolerate, and gives me the certain satisfaction of burning it when I’m done – yet another reason to heat with wood.
But inauguration day came, followed by the women’s march, which I did not attend. I took my 91-year old father to the opera, one of the few activities he can still enjoy. Even though I was not on the ground to protest, I was nevertheless energized by those who did. In particular, I’m indebted to my local friends who returned with focused ideas about how to keep the movement going.
As a result, I’ve been bombarded with invitations to action, from demonstrating in Montpelier, to writing postcards, making phone calls, and attending any number of strategy sessions about how best to harness the significant energy to do what we can to influence those who we can to be the best nation we can: a nation based on separation of church and state, religious tolerance, freedom of speech and peaceful assembly; a nation whose greatness has been made possible by welcoming immigrants fleeing oppression and seeking opportunity; and a nation aspiring toward equal opportunity for everyone, regardless of race, gender, or bedroom behavior.
Within the week, I was overwhelmed by invitations to demonstrate, join, protest, and resist.
Meanwhile, I continued to chop wood and carry water. I have to in order to heat both the studio in which I work and the water with which I brew the tea I drink while I write. The heat and the tea keep my body grounded and my mind focused, allowing my imagination to fly. The calls to action threatened to disrupt that focus the same way the election results did, but I couldn’t only chop wood, carry water. I had to do more. But what?
I’ve chosen three ways I can push back against the hard right turn of our national government: 1) increase the use of restorative practices for resolving conflicts, 2) call, email, and write to local, state and federal lawmakers on important issues, and 3) continue to tell stories to create change.
More about each of these next week; in the meanwhile, please let me know about any civic actions you’re taking.
Time now to chop wood, carry water.
Treat yourself to an essay every Wednesday delivered directly to your inbox. Just enter your address in the box on the right, click subscribe, and check your email to confirm you’re a reader and not a robot. It’s easy, and I’ll be glad you did.