I’ll admit that this last Presidential election irritated me. On Election night, I panicked and all of my fears during the primary were confirmed: Donald Trump had “won”.
I’ll also admit that all of my hopes and dreams about this country had been dashed long before then. I didn’t like the mud-slinging that was going on because this type got ugly…really ugly. It wasn’t about policy or plans but about threats and unprecedented hate-mongering.
My response seemed common. I trolled the internet, Facebook posts and Twitter feeds. Like many Americans, I began to fear and challenge the results thinking of the protests of the 60’s, hearing the rallying cry of so many of my friends who would be directly affected by this outcome. I envisioned the madness of our world’s history: emboldened fascists and neo-Nazis marching on Washington brandishing high-powered assault rifles. I read the articles about the alt-right movement breeding a new batch of Muslim-hating racists. I felt sick; I had bouts of interrupted sleep; I got angry; I wondered what to do. Surely, I had to do something…
Should I Take This Lying Down?
I am my own worst enemy when it comes to my imagination. I couldn’t escape the imagery that raced through my mind. Trump represents everything that I am against: unethical behavior, racism, sexual-assault, lying, cheating, criminality, capitalism, self-absorption, reality TV, xenophobia, narcissism. So, being the visual being that I am, I couldn’t help but picture this:
**My Darth Vader digital drawing on Trump Mail Art Event image by MOAN LISA
But even as my mind spiraled deeper and deeper into the dark, I remembered this iconic image of John Lennon and Yoko Ono staging their “Bed In” protest:
That’s when I realized something. Trump may become this nation’s next President, but there is one thing that he couldn’t do: get my permission. He could be the worst leader in the free world, but he doesn’t hold my beliefs, thoughts, way of life, art, ideology hostage because these do not belong to anyone but me. I belong in the world and my existence proves that. I am here. I can choose to live my life and not be burdened by the things in this world (that I have no control of anyway). I can choose to be happy and reject anyone who tries to be cruel, mean, and negative towards me. I can try to challenge my beliefs to see if I can find common ground with others who, like me, don’t want to miss the important parts to a good life. Let’s face it: my time on this earth is limited, but I myself am infinite. Beliefs are only made manifest if the person consciously chooses to make them so.
Truth time. I began to observe what was making me feel upset about this election. It seemed to stem from my trust in public information and how it’s transmitted. I wanted to believe that I was a cog on the wheel of justice, the principles of freedom, the American Way that has been ingrained into my brain since childhood. Further, social media and media’s pervasive nature made me feel a bit of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) if I wasn’t kept up-to-the-second informed on the election, the results, the transition of power or given crucial information that I really believed could threaten my safety and livelihood. But by reading every blessed post, I kept introducing negativity and reinforcing my helplessness, taking ownership of concepts that didn’t originate from me nor defined my true nature in the little, tiny circle of life that I exist in. I was blindly accepting plates overflowing with distraction and side-orders of disdain.
Why would I want to live out my time worried and frustrated and angry and bitter? Well, quite frankly, I am addicted to it. Living in a major city can take its toll on a person’s psyche. So much stimulus can not only overwhelm the senses, but create false truths in the mind. I’ve found it so tempting to fall into old, bad habits because I’ve spent a lot of my life working to establish a sense of routine. And a lot of that routine was already out-of-balance not just due to my lifestyle, but the many poor, dysfunctional choices I’ve made. I created chaos because it seemed “normal” to me. Worse, I have grown impatient and long for instant gratification which only makes me nervous and upset when things don’t pan out or follow a predetermined pattern.
Sometimes the best choice is not to choose. I don’t have to play any politics. I don’t have to engage. I don’t have to watch the news.
So what can I do in the meantime (or, at least for four years)? I can meditate. I can write and create. I can watch gentle ASMR videos on YouTube and Netflix’s Sarah & Duck episodes. I can read, learn new stuff. I can pet my dog. I can eat better and exercise. I can learn to listen and not to judge other people so much because, hey, they’re just like me with maybe a different set of circumstances and experiences.
Now, if I feel my strength waning or my resolve fading, I prefer to picture Trump like this:
And so long as I live, I have the freedom to exist in this world just as I am. And I live in a country that affords that right to all of its people regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or creed. But I’m aware that each citizen has a right to choose and I can only be responsible for my own actions…or inactions.
Leaving My Mark:
While searching for inspiration, my sister brought to my attention a Buddhist monk named, Hua Chi. He has reportedly left his footprint indentations in the wood of a monastery having prayed in the same spot for twenty years!
Dedication to being the best person that I can be amidst disbelievers and the unconscious masses is all that I can do. If other people are inspired by that, and feel compelled to follow in my footsteps (pun intended), then what an indelible mark that would leave behind!