Summer is over. September is over. The work of wellness was hard for me this month. My physical practices were robust and strong. I started running again. Yoga as always. Walking, hiking, pick up games of tennis or frisbee keep-away from El Doggo. All good. Knee is good. Heart is good.
Social wellness was not so good. Emotional wellness was a struggle, which taxes mental wellness, especially creativity. My work on these aspects of wellness has been tougher than any physical workout to the point that exercise is almost an escape. Almost.
America. My country. My heart feels so battered. I feel like my country is in an abusive relationship with itself. I’m part of that relationship. All Americans are part of that relationship. My government is in abusive relationship with its people. It all just seems to be getting worse. It just keeps coming. Only one kind of person is safe here now. Every day the hate and fear festers deeper. Every shocking headline, every fraudulent charade, every indifferent shrug, every shit show piled up against all the rest until this no longer resembles the country they sold me when they taught me my star-spangled patriotism.
Did it ever? Did I not notice before? Did I just now wake up to the truth of it and did it really have to get this bad to wake me? Was it all just clever marketing? Did I get suckered in with the promise of inalienable rights? (Because now I’m learning there is no such thing.) Did my ancestors really sail for the New World just to create a replica of the old world they allegedly escaped? Persecution, oppression, tyranny? Really? And then murdered, enslaved, and crushed the culture and identity of natives to facilitate less resistance to a new institution of persecution, oppression, and tyranny? People died to secure a nation for the privilege of torturing, enslaving, and killing people with immunity even after we pretended to outlaw these atrocities? How is this new or better? And yet I am required to demonstrate my pride and respect or risk treason? I better defend, uphold, and support this or I can get the fuck out, right?
Paranoia. Guilt. Un-wellness. Dis-ease. My father was on a battlefield patching up warriors fighting communist oppression when I was born. I spent all these years rolling my eyes at his rants and sermons, admonishing him to just let it go already. I finally understand why he is so jaded. So distrustful. So betrayed and cheated and broken. I get it now. There’s a formula. We buy in and pledge allegiance, learn the carefully curated history designed to compel us, and then with great conviction tell each other this is the best nation on Earth. Best in sales, that’s for sure.
And oh the ache to save them. The Them who are really Us — why can’t desire be enough to muster the power to save Them? The bone-deep anguish that I can’t save Them. I can’t save anyone. And I want to save them all and love them and empower them and heal them. And I can’t. And even if I could, they wouldn’t be safe here with me. They’d just get shot again, arrested again, outlawed again, disavowed again, unwelcomed again, cast out again, left to starve and suffer and rot. Saving them wouldn’t be enough. I’d have to (re)create a place and resources and government that actually delivers on the promises inalienable rights.
Am I the only one floundering so inelegantly? Don’t answer that; I already know. What if I was gay, or an immigrant, or Muslim, or Hindu, or not white, or poorer than this, or poorly educated, or disabled, or just lost everything in a natural disaster, or living somewhere else and wishing I could move some place where all people are equal and free and valued and protected under the law? I don’t have it so bad by comparison, except that when any one of us suffers we all suffer and we are all diminished and incriminated by pretending to be separate.
This month it all felt heavier and harder and at times, hopeless. The struggle not to lose my grip on a healthy perspective has become part of my daily practice. I’m sad. I’m horrified. I’m frightened. I’m fractured. I’m told by people who look like me to get off my ass and use my privilege to do something, goddammit. I’m told by people who look different than me to sit down and shut up because we don’t need another white savior archetype.
So should I really type out another blog post about cooking vegan food and writing a novel and choosing minimalism and getting out of debt and shopping local and composting and daily meditation while everything burns and crumbles and drowns and chokes? I probably shouldn’t, but trying to stay well feels like all I’ve got right now — the proverbial all I’ve got to hang on to. I don’t have a religion to which I can cling. I don’t have a god to which I can defer all these problems. I don’t have a community because everyone must be polarized, radicalized, and unionized. I don’t have faith.
All I have is a survival instinct driving me to stay as well as I can and these practices I’ve developed to do so. All I can do is get up and do the work for another day. All I can offer for September is gratitude that I still get to practice.
I didn’t keep a list this month so I could craft a highlight reel. All I did this month was try to hang on, try use my energy for good, try not to give in to hopelessness, and work my practices. That’s it.
Maybe October will be better. Maybe I will be better in October.