I’m with Sue in finding it difficult to hang on to a “can-do spirit.” We keep thinking things can’t get worse and, by golly, they do. Surely there is a bottom and we must—I hope—be just about there. It won’t be over on November 3, but I’m still counting down the days. I can make it that long, I tell myself.
A rubber shoe
by Sue Robin, Los Angeles, California
The pandemic, combined with the heat and smoke, have given me a shove to more actively explore and push my creative side. In that light, I have embarked on a 28-day challenge with the Brooklyn Art Library. A daily prompt is sent to all participating. The directions are clear:
DRAW: Things Found Under Your Bed! What’s under there?
Make a drawing of all things, both real and fictional, that could live under your bed.
A rubber shoe and some dust bunnies appeared.
I drew them and then, through the smoke, the other losses started to show themselves:
RBG, 953,000 people world-wide lost to COVID19, and Breona Taylor, Trevon Martin, George Floyd, Atatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean and on and on and on. All those are etched in my heart and found their way to the drawing.
A dear friend always reminded me that this too shall pass no matter the trauma; personal or communal. She would say that the only thing we could count on was change. I wonder if I will be around to see the passage from hatred to connection, from destruction of the earth to honoring it. Will the smoke clear before another wildfire besmirches the air yet again? Will those in power act on the need for climate change? Will sanity prevail over conspiracy theory? Will our country, at long last, make a commitment to equality, liberty and justice for all? There is a huge chunk of humanity that have been waiting interminably for these changes. Too many times, there is one step forward and two back. Hard to make progress that way.
Hatred has been around forever and, like the wildfires, just as it seems to tamp down a bit, it flares yet again. We have lived through numerous horrors: crusades, pogroms, slavery, the concentration camp deaths, and countless genocides in too many countries. Each time liberation seems to arrive, it is held hostage to conspiracies and a complete denial of the interconnectedness of all life.
After seventy-three years on this planet, it is hard to maintain a can-do spirit. I thought the Civil Rights movement and all its pains would be a turning point. Obama’s election brought hope as well. The Paris Climate Agreement and the laws addressing pollution in my home state of California all felt positive, as did the freedom to love who you love, but in the past four years we have leapt back a hundred years. We have a man in charge who does not believe in climate change, does not see white privilege or systemic racism and stokes the sparks of hatred wherever he goes. He is unable to honor or acknowledge others. One outrage after another follow this orange disaster. From his appointment to run the post office, his constant finger pointing, to his disregard of science and daily name calling, he has created a toxic environment far worse than the smoke from the fires.
I pray that we the people can douse the flames of hatred on November 3, 2020, and stem the growth of this era of ill will.
Yes, I so agree, Sue, that the struggle to maintain hope for a brighter future is a real challenge. The orange monster has turned back the clock, in some ways it seems, to the dark ages. In the last few days I have discovered another way to keep going. I rufuse to let Donald Trump beat me. I will not let him crush my soul.
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Dear Sue…I really appreciated your sharing the idea of drawing something each day by following a prompt. I do not draw easily or well, but I do write much more easily. Therefore, I began a practice, during this pandemic, of writing a piece every day following a prompt. Doing so has truly helped me stay rather sane (emphasis on the “rather”). I hope other readers of what you have written here will try one of those practices, especially during this difficult and strange time.
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