It all feels very personal, doesn’t it?
We’ve been carrying the weight of the election for weeks, for months. We’ve been carrying more than one body can hold, more than an election can provide. The pandemic. The isolation. The deaths. We wanted a salve. We wanted an end. We did everything we weren’t supposed to do: we drank too much and stayed up too late to stress over a needle flowing back and forth like grass in a breeze. We wanted to forget everything at the same time as we watched this needle, hypnotized by its movements; we wanted it to put us asleep so we could wake up on the other side and it would all be over.
Now we’ve woken up, and the world is still craggy and imperfect. The needle is broken. The pandemic is still here. Election night created a thousand parallel universes and I feel as if my conscious self has flown apart to join them. The cynical self never wants to think about politics again. The lizard-brain self would like to take a week-long nap. The most optimistic self is glad for what happened, because maybe it means people will understand that we’re not in the clear, and that now more than ever we need strong movements — and I don’t mean ‘screw that racist guy’ movements, but Green New Deal movements, healthcare-for-all movements, movements that inspire millions of new people to get involved. Although, the nervous self of me realizes that I have no real clue how to impact electoral politics, how to change the mind of hundreds of thousands of people, so maybe everything I think about that is still wrong.
Here’s what’s been getting me through the pandemic, the election, everything: small moments. Putting the computer away, going outside, and opening my eyes. Noticing things outside of myself:
- when the brightness of Mars matches the ambulance lights in Adams Morgan;
- when a mother mouse shepherds her babies on a life-or-death journey across a sidewalk;
- when the yellow leaves in Rock Creek Park drop like rain.
I spend a good part of my days writing fiction. I love it, but it’s a pretty isolating vocation. I work on a story for days, weeks, or months; I submit a million different places; I hear back months later with rejections that keep getting kinder, and once in a blue moon an acceptance; I wait months between acceptance and publication before I can share with the world, and even then, sometimes the piece is behind a paywall. In the time between when I write a story and when I’m able to share it, years have passed.
So I’ve been looking for a way to write in a way that engages more immediately with my community. That’s why I’m starting up an email newsletter. Once a week, I want to write about something immediate, something real, something I can share with whoever wants to read it. I’m calling it “noticements” because it’s just about moments where I notice… anything.
Mostly I am doing this for me. I don’t have a grand theory of change here. I want to stay sane.
But I also hope that in writing this, I can encourage others to pay attention as well. To their inner selves, to the political landscape, to the mouse that’s just trying to stay alive.
A broken mirror on pavement. Even though the mirror was on the same plane as the pavement, the focus of the reflection appeared further away. Cameras can only focus on one plane at a time.
You can also invite your friends to read with you.