Election night found me sobbing into my comforter aghast at the thought of a man with such dastardly ideals making his way to the presidency. I was stunned when it actually happened.
My apolitical, largely equanimous boyfriend refused to discuss the matter with me, even chuckling at my emotional ranting and tsk-tsking me for allowing American politics to disrupt my sense of peace. "Nothing you are doing or saying right now is going to help this situation," he announced with finality.
"Well that's easy for you to say," I sputtered, "you're a straight white male living in Canada, you don't have to worry about your safety or losing your home or being deported." Silence ensued. Nickolai had no interest in discussing the ramifications of a climate change denier in the position of president. He didn't want to discuss the role the media played in swaying the election, or the flawed electoral system, or what would happen to immigrants or minorities in the coming months. Nickolai wanted to meditate and then go to bed. He was tired.
It became obvious that while I was ruminating over the global impacts of Trump as president and gauging the response of the international community, Nickolai was tinkering with bikes and planning a surf trip to Nicaragua.
Something about that bothered me. I found his utter disinterest to be unsettling and I felt alienated, alone and afraid of the future. Shortly thereafter Nickolai declared he was leaving for Los Cardones and promptly sped away where he remains languishing in the tropics while I write this.
Crusty and decidedly alone, my strategy of incessantly watching Democracy Now and voicing my growing concerns to whoever would listen didn't seem to be working. It was not working because I had not managed to change a single thing except personally become increasingly anxious and at times, angry.
I wrote those paragraphs a few weeks ago. I had to stop writing because I was overwhelmed and genuinely at a loss. What to do? I doubled up on my meditation practice; observing the breath and sensations in the body, sitting quietly and resting in presence. I started painting, because I'm a painter and that's what soothes my soul and lifts my spirits. I stopped watching the news every day. I stopped following American politics. I began a new series of paintings that celebrate water. I wanted to do my part to support the people at Standing Rock and creating pieces that show the power, beauty and sacredness of water seemed like an authentic endeavour based on my skill set.
I spoke with my beloved friend and mentor, Lori MacDonald, who told me that after the election she quit her job and started reworking an educational game she had previously created on climate change. She felt that she needed to put her energies toward something more meaningful and relevant. I was inspired.
I began to understand that it is always a good time to focus on what you love and believe in and changing that program might never be a good idea. I got derailed, it's okay. Derailed happens. And it's not that I have become apathetic and shut down regarding the current state of democracy in North America. Noooooo, instead I am more motivated than ever to support the projects and the people I believe in, vote with my dollar, pursue my passions and 'give my gifts' -- Nickolai thinks steadfastly 'giving your gifts' as a life philosophy, with the belief that everything is going to work out in the end, is hokey.
I think things may not work out the way you originally surmise because having expectations often ends in disappointment. And experience has shown there are no guarantees in this life, but as a general pursuit, focusing on what you love and believe in and are naturally good at, can bring peace and very likely some measure of success. Besides, what are the options?
"Do less," my friend Kiki advises with a compassionate smile. What does that mean? Well, it doesn't mean do nothing. It means don't try so damn hard, don't make everything so darn difficult with all your thinking, worrying, plotting and planning. We all have natural talents, things that come easy to us, do those things. Smile, literally smile at life, it puts you in a good mood. A good mood is contagious. What might Donald Trump do if he was in a good mood? He might just step out of Trump Tower and flip twenty bucks to some homeless guy who can't afford to pay his exorbitant mortgage. That twenty bucks might enable him to buy a phone card and reconnect with his family. He might move in with a relative and end up using their electric bike to commute to a new job.
The point is you can never know the far-reaching implications of a well-timed charitable act. And charitable acts generally result from a good mood. So give yourself permission to spend more time doing what you enjoy, what you've got a propensity for, what you believe in and spread your good fortune and your good mood to others.
Last night I dreamt Trump and I were friends. I was trying to get him to use a black ballpoint pen to fill out a fine print form and he was convinced he should use one of those flat, wide carpenter's pencils. So maybe somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind, I'll always believe he is unaware and unqualified, but at least I'm no longer actively hating on the guy and simultaneously making myself miserable.