There are times, like this past week, when the subject of gratitude comes hard, sticks in my throat. Hillary, her face gray and drawn, her hair lacking its coiffured fluff and luster, spoke out. “It’s up to each and every one of us to keep working to make America better and stronger and fairer,” she implored. Obama, overseas, in Germany, gathered crowds, put his best face forward, gave the message that our democracy will carry on and survive.
Yet, as I listen to Hillary and Obama, I mourn, feel regret. I am fearful and believe it is essential to adhere to values and action to assure civility and safety for all. But in the meanwhile, I must answer my own questions.
Who is Trump? How will he lead? Does he have perspective beyond the immediacy of his own lens or is he easily led, swayed by men such as Steve Bannon with his uncanny ability to pinpoint language, switch Trump’s moderate considerations into rhetoric of power with impunity.
Eleven days out, how do I live? How do I make sense of the onslaught of bad news— men who have spoken out against diversity, my core beliefs— being chosen to lead? What day-to-day action do I take? How will I use my time and resources to manage what is now becoming a stream of alien options difficult to digest?
My gratitude blog is my window to the world, a once a week deadline where I show up, rain or shine, to explore what has become the challenge to find and experience gratitude. I began this blog a year ago. Post election, I considered shifting to an every other week schedule. Now, I feel the imperative to continue, to write, to stay the course.
Yesterday, as my neighborhood mechanic was sealing a slow leak in my tire, I took a walk. The sky was energetic with dark clouds swirling, the air brisk with erratic winds as I combed a familiar street on foot to explore a major bridge, shut down, in repair, straight ahead. For weeks, this route has been re-routed, adding up to over a 20-minute encircling to what had been a 10-minute trip. On the ground, close to the site, I understood— they were rebuilding the bridge from the bottom up; rebuilding takes devoted attention and time.
In the afternoon, grateful and refreshed at the image of the bridge, I continued to meander and found another— smaller, simpler in its wooden structure, across from the Wellesley public library. I was in soul-tracking mode, the low sun highlighting tree after tree, some a century and a half old, their limbs stretched, each one perfect in its way. Beyond the trees, I found the bridge, weathered, a flexible, wooden arch, sheltering a spring, grey and gritty from lack of rain, but still running.
With gratitude, I felt the sun on my back as I clicked away on trees. Sometimes, what we need is pause, the time to dig deep, to grasp what is essential before we can find the image, the words to move back into the stream.