But I get up again. The past three weeks have sent me into a tail spin. My faith in the basic decency of humankind has been shaken. Apparently, we truly do not care how we treat each other as long as “we” win. I have become unmoored.
I am like a punching bag that boxers use to train. I get knocked down, off balance, but eventually I spring back and right myself. Usually. This time I feel like I have received a knock-out punch, a blow of staggering proportion. I am requiring more processing time than usual to find my vertical equilibrium.
Please don’t take my inactivity in marches or protests or my lack of vitriolic social media protests as a sign that I do not care. It is perhaps that I have not yet processed the depth of my caring. Some people come out fighting and I am grateful for them. For my friends who are truly working to improve the system, I salute you. Other of us need to go off to a dark quiet place to lick our wounds in private, to allow our brains a chance to catch up and accept the new reality, before we feel safe enough to emerge.
For me there is a process to recovery. First comes the numbing after the disbelief during which vast quantities of carbohydrates are consumed. The next phase involves creating order out of chaos, in small ways I can control. I shelve books and order series in the library. I file papers and clean the house, clearing out the physical spaces I inhabit. The process of putting together a jigsaw puzzle I have found to be particularly therapeutic. Giving my hands, eyes and a small part of my brain a task to do, allows the rest of my brain to process the static noise and confusing signals it’s receiving. I can break them down into manageable pieces and store them as processed bits and bites. Towards the end of the process comes walking, outside, preferably in sunshine, the rhythmic alternating left-right-left-right balancing the brain.
At first the signs of recovery come in snatched moments, fragments of hope, that pop up in the dark. Then finally there comes a day when I can say “I think I’m on my way back.” When that day comes, I can pick up my projects again and rejoin the human race. It’s close, but still just a bit out of reach. I’ll see you when I can grab hold of it.
Be kind. Be kind to those like you and those unlike you. Be kind to those you love and those you do not understand. I don’t know how we’re going to get through this as a whole country, but if we do it will be because we were kind to one another. Be kind. Be considerate. Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Love your neighbor as yourself. Be kind.
And if someone you know is struggling, give them a jigsaw puzzle. It helps.