Return to Joy

That’s it.
I’m done with despair.
I’m finished with fatalism.
I’m ready to return to Joy.

I wrote my first political blog post 6 months ago, or so.
And, like much of the country, I got pulled deeper and deeper into election fever.
The stakes were so high, I felt like I had to stay engaged.
Values that I believed to be fundamental to my identity as an American were in jeopardy.
I found myself more and more concerned with the physical world and less and less connected to my spiritual truth.

Conversations about Donald & Bernie & Hillary were ever-present.
My social media was filled with alarmist articles and videos that amplified the values-based fears I had. (While people more concerned with immigration and jobs were getting alarmist news that amplified their concerns.) The contrast & volume was cranked all the way up. We were left with *literally* demonized caricatures. Both sides used terms like “pure evil” and invoked Hitler comparisons. It became more and more difficult to see the other side as anything less than an ignorant enemy.

And the drama was so intense and surreal, it was hard to ignore. It took real discipline to avoid talking politics in social situations. I remember being at a Burning Man meeting, surrounded by campmates. The meeting topics were things like, “new fur couches” “life changing experiences” & “how best to blow people’s minds.” And yet, at the after-meeting potluck, I found myself in a passionate conversation about the danger of Donald Trump. My like-minded campmates were talking louder and louder as they added their fearful insights about the political landscape. We agreed with one another and kept one-upping the horror.

In a flash, I had a moment where I was witnessing the scene I was in. I was physically agitated. I was full of righteous indignation and anger. 
Yes, there was a sick, addictive pleasure in ranting about things I dislike, but what purpose did this conversation hold? In this circle of Trump detractors, all we were doing was strengthening the opinions we already held and anchoring ourselves to thoughts of worry and fear-based futures.
“STOP!” I yelled a little too loud.
“This gathering is a treasured moment. It is our chance to talk about Burning Man plans, desert utopia, and love. Can we stop talking about Trump and return making plans to make our fuzzy pink dreams come true?”

And so, 2 weeks after the election, I am yelling “STOP!” to myself.
I have spent a good deal of time trying to process what the election means to me.
I have cried a lot. I have fluctuated dramatically in mood. I have turned down nearly all social invitations. I have gained 10 lbs.

I have tried to stay informed. Each time I dig into my Facebook stream I feel my energy reserves drain. I feel a vague sense of defeat that feels like low-grade depression.

And there are a lot of angry voices critical of anyone who is not fighting. Or looks for the bright side. Or has hope.

This commitment to “stay angry” is not serving me.

I am giving myself permission to not watch every alarmist video. I am giving myself permission to not read daily updates on Trump’s presidency.

I am giving myself permission to remember what I am grateful for…and to enjoy the present moment.

I am giving myself permission to set down the crap in my hands and pick up the ice cream cone. (Maybe with a quick detour to the bathroom to wash my hands.)

I watched a Thanksgiving video I made where I shared some of my techniques for re-focussing on gratitude. I talked about re-calibrating my baseline: noticing the miracles of my physical body and appreciating my health.

I felt instantly better. I felt energized.

It is possible to know that the world is messed up…and enjoy it anyway. It is not only *possible* to be living in joy while making the world a better place, it may be the only way that I can.

I’m ready to return to Joy.