Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dark Days

Geisha, Nutcracker, Court Jester, Mary Queen of Scots

So who out there has untrimmed the tree and put all the decorations away? ​I still haven't started -- I need all the Christmas lights I can get on these dark days and have sworn not to put one thing away until the end of January (as recommended, even in non - inaugural years, by Stephen Fry)!

This month has just been too dark in every way -- weather, politics, all the griefs of the world. Martin Luther King, Jr. is dead; the arc of history does not tend toward justice; Jesus is never coming back; there will never be peace on earth. While we, personally, may not be skewered, greed takes the day, and our happiness is forever tainted by the dark undertoad of the haves vs the have nots and the few hurting the many.

If this isn't the bleak midwinter, then I don't know what is!

I still see so much normalizing going on, even among staunch Trump Objectors. How do they do it? I'm pretty sure that disgust has been written all over my face during some uncomfortable conversations where I was trying my best to maintain a "no comment" stance. But the dismay just leaks out. Disgust, dismay, despair, hate, sadness -- all the aforementioned emotions combined. Thus, Let the Record Show. All the cynical cartoons speak to my heart. I know it seems wrong to hate, but even worse is the sadness. Every day feels like somebody's funeral. A dreadful week.

Too many things that used to be funny just seem sad now, but thanks to comedian Lily Tomlin, I haven't completely lost my sense of humor. I had to laugh when I heard her parting words to President Obama: "Too bad aliens didn't come during your Presidency. We would have been so proud to take them to our leader!"

But then I almost cried.

Thanks to my friend Katie
for offering this antidote to despair:
A Brief For The Defense

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come

by Jack Gilbert, American poet (1925 - 2012)
[see also "Happiness" by Jane Kenyon]
And thanks to friends Cate & Nancy
for reminding me that we are Women Warriors

Cate: I can only recommend that you back off from your emotional state in reference to the inauguration , etc. You are forcing yourself to carry a hot coal that is only hurting you. Be a warrior. Be of good cheer. Keep on doing what needs to be done. Don't watch TV. Unplug it. Study Dharma. Sweetie, do not look or listen to any news today. Stay off Facebook. Be kind to your self: go shopping, have lunch, get a manicure, dye part of your hair pink! Sending you much love! Peace and love, Cate

Nancy: It has helped me a lot to find a group of like - minded women. My advice is to go to Washington and join the women's March. There is still time. In any case, find something that speaks to your most important issues and volunteer. No time to despair. We must be strong: Warrior Women! Get out of your head and emotions and Act! Righteousness and love have kissed. Hugs from Nancy

P.S. ~ Friday ~ January 20th 2017
"Even the heavens wept." Jesus wept. I wept.

The winner of our election,
standing between two former Presidents.


  1. Throwback Inauguration Day Letter ~ 2005

    Thanks for sending the "All My Children" obituary of Ruth / Phoebe. I hadn't heard the news until you told me. Wasn't it good and meaningful and timely that she got to participate in the 35th Anniversary celebration a couple of weeks ago? Maybe in her heart she saw that as a good end to her long life. I wonder how / if the writers will incorporate her death into AMC? I don't think it has been mentioned yet (?).

    I know it's shallow, but I'm just sorry there'll be no AMC today because of the you - know - what (I'm not allowing myself to say the I -word). I hate it when televised public events conflict with my frivolous television viewing!

    I was talking to your mom this morning and we were commiserating about the shameless display of conspicuous consumption going on in our capitol city this very minute, but I'm trying not to think about that. Instead, I'm reading the book that your mom sent to Ben for his birthday -- Bill Bryson's SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING and trying to keep in perspective that we are just one tiny speck of life in the vast vast cosmos of possibility. Are you a Bryson fan?

    Also, how about Sarah Vowell? Your mom recommended her to me (TAKE THE CANNOLI & PARTLY CLOUDY PATRIOT). She is a good author for a depressing day like today. She knows tons of American history and writes about all the shameful events but still presents plenty of optimism. If you've read her work already, then you probably remember her essay about attending the last inauguration (oops, I said it). Her friends asked her how she could stand to go, and she said, "It's my country too!" She shows the fine line between feeling ashamed of America yet proud . . . and of course, sorrowful.

    Well, try to keep the faith. We must have hope for the future. XO, K.

    PS. I was so happy to hear that you tried out -- and liked -- your birthday presents! We received some of the candles for Christmas last year and just loved them and enjoyed them all year long (they do last a long time)! I know what you mean about being tempted to save every lovely little thing, but it really is better to enjoy them every day! Besides, I want you to use up all your soaps and candles so that I can send you some more!

  2. Thanks to Charlotte VanVactor for this one:

    Good Bones

    Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
    Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
    in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
    a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
    I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
    fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
    estimate, though I keep this from my children.
    For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
    For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
    sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
    is at least half terrible, and for every kind
    stranger, there is one who would break you,
    though I keep this from my children. I am trying
    to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
    walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
    about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
    right? You could make this place beautiful.

    Maggie Smith
    "Good Bones" from _Waxwing_
    Copyright © 2016 by Maggie Smith