Friday night, 8:45. I had strong intentions to go to bed super early, but I’m just not wired to go to bed super early.
Look, there’s no way around the fact that the last few weeks have just been a steady onslaught of “can it get worse?” “why yes, it can!” over and over and over. I’m getting serious news fatigue, so I’m taking today off from new input about whatever has happened today in this nightmare of a presidency. It will be waiting for me tomorrow, along with whatever else happens in the meantime.
Yes, I’m possibly being dramatic about how bad things are. I don’t think I am, but I can see that perspective and am too weary to defend against it. If that’s what you think, I hope you are right. I would love nothing more right now than to be proven terribly wrong in my judgements about what is already happening and what I fear is coming next if nobody with both the guts and the power starts steering this train back on track.
BUT. Right now, maybe in part because of my day off from new information, I’m feeling kind of hopeful and heartened, for a few reasons.
One reason is you guys. Those of you sharing things on facebook that make me think and/or make me feel less alone. Those of you having conversations, both about what is happening and also about what we can do. I know you are also weary. I know some of you have very real reasons to be afraid, for your homes or your jobs or your health or your children and families. Or just for your sense of safety in this country and this world. For every comment that I see that dismisses these concerns, I see (in my feed, at least, and in my day to day life) many, many more that validate them. This gives me real hope for the future. I am more awake than I have ever been, and I’m not alone in that. And I’m aware that some of what I am waking up to has been surrounding me long before this election, but I was too lazy or ignorant or self-absorbed to care. It hurts to be awake and to look down and see the blood on your hands. But while it hurts, there’s also the flip side of feeling like you can do something about it, wanting to fix what’s broken. And looking around and realizing that you are immersed in a community of people who care. There’s true hope in that.
The other reason is the kids. Always comes back to the kids for me. Maybe just because that’s where I spend so much of my time and energy, but I think mostly because kids are so refreshingly real. It’s not that they are pure and perfect (ha!). By middle school, the masks are starting to form and the battle between authenticity and conforming to some idea of what is acceptable is really being fought in some of these kiddos. But what a gorgeous thing when you see that authenticity come through. And how deeply I admire my colleagues who are creating classrooms where kids can safely try to figure out who they are and share that self with the world. As a librarian, I am often on the periphery of things when it comes to class dynamics, but I do get to see how much power our teachers have in creating these safe spaces. You can feel it when a class comes through the door. And I’m not talking about a class being the smartest or the best behaved, but just a place where kids can be themselves and throw out their thoughts and opinions with a mix of respect and abandon. I can only imagine how tricky it is to build that culture with a bunch of 12-year-olds, but I see it happening around me and am so grateful for it.
I’ve had a lot of library classes the past few days. With some of them, I got to see pure delight when kids solved a puzzle I’d given them. And frustration when it seemed too hard! “This is just not fun any more!” and “I’VE GOT IT!!” coming from different kids at the exact same moment! Some classes are doing research on topics of their choice, and I love to hear the excitement when they find an article that answers an authentic question they have. With one class today, I misstepped a bit in selecting a reading passage and ended up with several kids bailing out of the lesson because it was too gross (Phineas Gage; google him if you are feeling strong). But what an amazing thing! They felt uncomfortable, so they left the room, and then came back after the gross part was over. And some of the ones who stayed loved it, so it wasn’t a total bomb. It just was what it was–imperfect and kind of messy, like life.
So my challenge to myself is to be mindful. Mindful of these little moments in my day that give me hope, and mindful of where I fit in the larger world. Mindful of my responsibility to those around me, and those I can’t see, and this crazy planet we share. When I start to feel powerless and overwhelmed, it’s worth being mindful of the power of a single interaction to change the course of a life, including my own, but also of the temporary nature of every moment, every feeling.
I might not be making any sense. I feel good right now. I feel alive, and glad for it. I feel like I’m part of something bigger than I am.
Keep fighting the good fight. Love and peace to every one of you.