I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The world looks brighter this week

Taken on my walk to the bus
It's still fall here. I've been reading on some of my fellow bloggers' posts about a snowstorm that has hit the upper Midwest, with lots of snow and then sunshine to light it up. Now that's something I would love to see. I remember it often when I lived in Colorado: the light on the snow making lavish patterns and the incomparable beauty of everything turning softly white. And the sun almost always came out right after a big snowstorm.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we can go days in winter and fall without seeing more than a little peekaboo sunshine, and lately it's been very wet. October was the fourth wettest on record for Bellingham, and Seattle actually had the wettest ever. And November, so far, has had rain almost every day, even if just a little bit. But until Wednesday, every single day has been unusually warm. So we've been in no danger of seeing our rain turn white; in fact, we've not even had a freeze, just a light frosting on the windshield of my car, once.

First of all, I would like to thank all of you who commented on my last post. I was actually encouraged to find that I am not alone in this little corner of the world in my despair over the election. In the past week, I've regained my equilibrium, with only a glitch now and then in my burgeoning optimism. Friday was a tough day, for no reason I could fathom, but everything seemed to be going wrong and I'd get in an argument with a friend at the drop of a hat. I realized it was me, so I decided to go to an extra yoga class and ended up doing two classes, one right after the other. It was just what the doctor ordered: after that marathon of twisting and turning and getting into very successful postures, I left the studio feeling a little sore but very happy. The rest of the day was much, much better.

Years ago I read Joan Didion's memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, and it resonated deeply with me. She wrote it after her daughter became gravely ill, and then her husband died suddenly. She talks in the book about how she coped with such loss, and having been there myself in similar circumstances, I understood what she meant when she said, "There was a level on which I believed that what had happened remained reversible." Oh, how well I remember waking up for weeks after my son died, thinking somehow that I had dreamed it, and that, as she said, it remained reversible. That's the kind of magical thinking I remember experiencing, and the intense powerful grief would hit me once again so hard that I had to catch my breath. Slowly, very slowly, I began to accept what had happened and knew that he was not coming back.

Now, it's been long enough that I can think of Chris with a smile on my face, and fond memories in my heart. I'm no longer grieving or in mourning over the loss. And when I think of the election, I know that sooner or later I will feel that way about it too, without trying to normalize the loss or pretend it never happened. After the depression of last week, as I feel it beginning to lift, I realize that I want to take action. I'm not sure how yet, but when I talked with my sister Norma Jean last Wednesday, I decided to fly to Florida and spend a week with her. I'll leave in three weeks and that has given me a focus, something to look forward to. I am no longer a lover of travel, but I sure do enjoy being with her. It's been a year now since we were together in person, and after the ordeal of flying across the country, I'll be in her hands for a week. I'll swim at the Y with her every morning, walk every day with her, visit my little grand-nieces and niece, and basically have a good time with the one person in the world who knows me best. And then the world will look very different.

Coming back home to the Pacific Northwest after being somewhere else, I realize how much I have grown to love it here. Colorado was pretty wonderful in its own way, but there's something very special about being close to the Pacific Ocean and the Salish Sea. What is the Salish Sea, you ask? Well, check it out here. Bellingham is one of the main ports in that body of water, along with Vancouver to our north and Seattle to the south. Yes, it rains here a lot, and the dark winter months discourage many people from living here. I find that exercising outdoors year round, no matter what the weather, does wonders for my mood. If I were housebound, I don't think I'd like it here nearly as much as I do. Once when I was returning from some trip or other, the plane circled the Space Needle in Seattle, and I gazed at the incredible green of the land and the blue water, and I knew I was home. I still recall that feeling, which is really something for a person who grew up without roots and had no single place to call home. I chose this area, and now it's been eight years since we moved here, and I cannot imagine living elsewhere.

On another topic entirely, I learned the the Oxford Dictionary has named the phrase "post-truth" the Word of the Year for 2016. This article from Salon, written yesterday, tells you all about it. From that article by Erin Keane:
Post-truth is defined as a state in which “objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Post-truth admits that facts exist but rejects their political utility. It’s not about what you personally believe but a crass and quasi-abusive exploitation of the human impulse to reach toward faith and tribal affiliation.
The entire article is well worth a read, and it explained a lot to me about how we got into this political situation. The fact that we have moved from "truthiness" to "post-truth" scares me. A lot. But, as I said last week, and I'll say it again so that I won't forget it, it's more important to live my own truth, and spread love and light as much as I can. I cannot change the world through magical thinking, but I can change my response to it. I can forgive, including myself for my shortcomings, and I can keep on moving toward seeing the bright world around me.

And with that, another post, is written, and I'll hop up out of bed and make my way to the coffee shop to enjoy hanging out with my friends, and then another yoga class on top of that. Maybe a movie with my friend Judy this afternoon. I hope that you will have a wonderful week ahead, and I am giving myself permission to have one myself. Be well until next week.


Linda Reeder said...

I realized by Thursday that I was in a state of depression. I have experienced it before - that pervasive sense of a complete lack of joy. I am working to overcome it. Yesterday Tom and I went on a little field trip to several nurseries with gift shops, enjoying some of the beauty of the holiday season, and selecting two shrubs to replace things we have removed from our garden. It helps.

I have a busy week ahead of me. Monday Irene will be with us, as her school is out for parent conferences. She and I will spend some time at the mall. I'll be hosting both kids for dinner as Jill has her own evening parent conferences to hold. Tuesday I'll be baking pies and making cranberry sauce while we function as airport shuttle for family coming and going - California Reeders in, Jill and kids out to Colorado. Then in the evening we have A Sounders playoff match to attend. It promises to be cold and rainy and intense.

On Wednesday at some point we will pack up everything we are contributing to the Thanksgiving dinner and go to Whidbey Island, where Tom's sister and brother and niece and their families are gathering. After I get there I will make the stuffing and have it ready to go into the bird the next day. Then I will submit myself to "going with the flow" as I try to blend with the wishes and traditions of others. I'll take my rain gear because I might need to take walks even if the weather is not the kind to be grateful for. We will come home sometime Friday, I think.

I really need to do some self talk now and work toward a more positive outlook. My week requires it.

Marie Smith said...

I am glad you are feeling better this week. Spending time with your sister is a good prescription indeed. Excerise is so helpful in many ways as I have learned too.

Tabor said...

I have been baking and eating homemade cookies. I eat several every day and while it is a bad thing to do...it helps. I am better this week and beginning to make of list of things to do so that I feel I am making a contribution.

Anonymous said...

It takes time to get over the death of a loved one, and I am glad you have found peace.

Elephant's Child said...

I love that you are finding a way back to equilibrium. And have found home.
Heartfelt hugs. And oceans of caring.

Gigi said...

I am so happy to hear that this week was a brighter one for you. Continue to go forth spreading light & joy to others. I'm here in Arkansas where we just finished the memorial for my aunt. Like you, she spread light, joy & love and it warmed my heart to learn just how many people she'd touched in profound ways - it matters more than we know.

Sending hugs. Have a great week.

Far Side of Fifty said...

You sound more relaxed, good for you visiting Norma Jean! You will have a good visit! I hope you have a good week:)

Red said...

It's sad that politics degenerates to such a low level that it makes people depressed. Governments are to serve all the people. I've read a Joan Didion book but I can't remember which one. There has to be an answer to these miserable political situations. We had a lunatic and threw him out. We had something good to chose from. We are also more willing to change parties.

Carole said...

This is a nice time of year to visit the sunshine state!

I agree, the world does look a bit brighter this week. I believe that Obama, with his steady response, has helped to bring calm to those of us who are unhappy with the election results.

As always, thanks for sharing this part of your life with us :-)

The Furry Gnome said...

Your comment on the Salish Sea piqued my interest this week, and I clicked and read about it. Interesting vision that unites NW Washington and SW B.C., more recognized by the native Salish than modern boundaries.

Arkansas Patti said...

Wonderful medicines you have chosen. First exercise does burn off the angst, fear and irritation a lot of us have felt. It has helped me tons. That first week was brutal but we are surviving aren't we? Plus you are going to visit your much loved sister. There you will be surrounded by healing caring and sunshine. My goodness, you should be positively chipper on your return and ready for what ever.

Rita said...

I have stayed away from the news since the election annd spent the last several days coloring label stickers and then suing them in my bullet journal for 2017. Then I re-organized all my desk files. Did all that while listening to an audio book. Feeling better. Maybe enough to blog again pretty soon.

Enjoy your visit with your dearest sibling and everyone else down there. Things will get better. They always do--eventually. ;)

Anonymous said...

It is a great time to maintain body. Always it would be nice to enjoy life with a beautiful body...

Jackie said...

I'm glad things are looking up for you, Jan. I never want you to be sad or down.
Gentle hugs to you from South Georgia.
Happy Thanksgiving.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I so agree with you that the world looks brighter this week. Time heals, as they say, and it is sure working for me and the election results. I appreciate your comment thanking those of us who commented on last week’s post. I just went back there to read all the comments and it sure looks like almost all of us were in the same boat. This week I have been encouraged to see Trump continue to soften his position on several things, most notably on not going after Hillary. I think he realizes how divisive that would be. Also, he’s sounding more receptive to addressing climate change. Perhaps these were his real feelings all along, but he knew he had to sing a different tune to capture the votes he needed to win. Getting back to this post … Thank you for mentioning the book The Year of Magical Thinking. Sounds good … I want to check it out. Great news that you will be going to see Norma Jean again this year. Lastly, today is Thanksgiving Day and I want to wish you and SG a very Happy Thanksgiving. One of the things I’m thankful for is finding Eye on the Edge.

Deb Shucka said...

Such a lovely inspiring and reflective piece. The whole post-truth thing is still clanging around in my head. I read about it right after the election and seem to need to bring it up in every conversation. It's still surreal, this world we find ourselves in. Wishing we were all on Vashon right now so we could solve the problems of the world together. :-)