My Zen Place is Getting Harder to Find

I could get there a while ago. Meditation worked to refuel me when I was younger. In the years after my mind became noisy with all the life I’ve lived, knitting with soft, kaleidoscopy yarn or simply walking on a warm, sunshiny day got me closer to concentrating on the basicness of earth and sky (even the universe), more than the strange permutations of this society humankind has made.

I’ve been trying so hard not to talk about this for a while. As if my sadness would fade because I willed it too. I posted little stories and poems here to prove I could think about something else, that I’m a reasonably well-rounded person within my personal cushion of reality (the healthy kind of cushion that keeps us sane instead of in the constant first quarter round of the ferris wheel where the stomach clenches.) I haven’t ignored current political events, but I’ve wanted to spend more of my time dwelling in the wholeness of my life, all the parts of it that go on despite what’s felt like daily slaps in the face — some half-hearted, others hard and loud as if I, who just wants to write a decent story or bake a decent cake or knit a decent scarf or be a decent person, has somehow deserved it because my politics are progressive, or worse, because I’m considered ‘other’ and ‘others’ should go along or stand back and be quiet.

Thursday night I was going to put another Christmas movie on to distract me as I tended to other things, but I had to listen to him because I want to be a good citizen and not hear everything secondhand and with someone else’s take added before I decide on my own. I heard so much more of the same disrespectful lies and dictatorial posturing, and felt stupid once again for hoping that at the very least, I wouldn’t be insulted for my very real sadness. But he made sure to do that too. I don’t believe anymore that he just doesn’t understand. I know now that he takes pleasure in inflicting the pain, and stoking others to inflict it too. And I’ve always known. I just got snared by the same trap many people who want to be fair and decent and kind find themselves in — the hope, the giving of chances, the desire to be open and listen more than we speak. How do we believe this countrywide move toward the opposite (because he is the president) and not become changed by it?

When the other side has no hard and fast rules for decency in how they fight, how do we fight back effectively and without sinking to their level? In this post- so many publicly decent things world, how do I not become so angry that all I do is rail? How do I not turn that anger inward and begin to scorn myself as much as the angriest truth tellers do, because I chose politeness for so long in the face of the reality I thought was so far back in the darkness that it could be kept there without the vigilance of lifelong hard work?

How do I not feel that virtually everything I want to do to distract myself plays right into the hands of those who would rather see me dead than understand progress toward kindness and inclusiveness and open mindedness? And then, how would I even join the fight when it finds me soul-suckingly sad and tired about my personal, individual issues? And what gives me the right to want my private life to be considered that way when so many of us don’t even get to ask the question?

This is where I am now. When I do those other things to feel like a whole person who can contribute at least some little thing to the world, I feel like a fraud inside. Like a traitor. More than ever, listening to Fearless Leader makes me feel like a traitor when I do anything else. Like the resistance will rise or fall on shoulders like mine, and I’m too much of a weakling to be effective in the fight.

Don’t get me wrong; yes, I am crying as I write this. I hurt. I feel all this deeply — but I’m going to work hard to finish that story, bake another cake, finish that scarf and begin another. I’m going to watch the silly Christmas movie. Because I’ve had enough therapy to know that if I (me, not the person who is fortified and already ready) can ever be of any help in the fight, my oxygen mask has to be on first. I’m sorry I need it, but I’m glad for everyone else in this fight that we live here where you don’t have to decide to leave me on the battlefield to get me out of your way so I don’t hold you back.

Pretending that I’m not feeling all this, not writing about what is always in the back of my mind, wasn’t helping me. Turns out, I’m too smart for that. I understand and remember too much. I don’t want to dwell on it, maybe this kind of post from me won’t be frequent, but from now on when these feelings roil up to my surface, they’re coming out, and this is probably the best place to do it. Right now, writing these thoughts down here, making a record of them, may be the best I can do for anyone. Including me.