“This morning I have been pondering a nearly forgotten lesson I learned in high school music. Sometimes in band or choir, music requires players or singers to hold a note longer than they actually can hold a note. In those cases, we were taught to mindfully stagger when we took a breath so the sound appeared uninterrupted. Everyone got to breathe, and the music stayed strong and vibrant. Yesterday, I read an article that suggested the administration’s litany of bad executive orders (more expected on LGBTQ next week) is a way of giving us “protest fatigue” – we will literally lose our will to continue the fight in the face of the onslaught of negative action. Let’s remember MUSIC. Take a breath. The rest of the chorus will sing. The rest of the band will play. Rejoin so others can breathe. Together, we can sustain a very long, beautiful song for a very, very long time. You don’t have to do it all, but you must add your voice to the song. With special love to all the musicians and music teachers in my life.” — attributed to Madonna (I’ve not found its original source. I suspect the “blow up the White House” kerfuffle has overshadowed it).
Resistance is a long position.
For many of my friends and I, the past three weeks under the Republican administration have been a horror show as many of our causes and the agencies monitoring and protecting common interests (e.g., affordable healthcare, clean water, national parks, women’s governance of their own bodies, etc.) face blitzkrieg assault. How many petitions can one sign? How many protest marches can one join? It’s exhausting. Frankly, the speed and number of these attacks are designed to be exhausting, and they will continue. It’s a favorite strategy of self-serving powers – each act of resistance takes energy, each fact-check requires time and effort and rides the heels of a lie already gaining ground and whose repetition will continue.
A brief and relevant interlude for art: The Last Exit to Brooklyn knocked me sideways when first I read it. I remember reading to the end of “Tralala” and having to stand up and pace out the energy, scream-whispering, “Holy shit! Holy shit!” because I had just experienced the perfection integration of voice (the tension of the line!), form, and content. Tralala’s desperate circumstances, her bravado violence – nigh unforgiveable, and yet the end pleads compassion. It’s a masterpiece. Most stories/segments in the book also hold characters traditionally considered despicable (especially in 1964 at publication) who walk in the dark. It can be a tough read, whether you read for craft or pure story, and yet, even the mighty Hubert Selby, Jr. let a beam of light and laughter in with “And Baby Makes Three,” where Spook (and his motorcycle hat) finally show up with an old police bike; it stands out as a single matchlight of pure happiness.
Where is your matchlight? You may have to hunt for it.
That our world has survived more competent raptors than those running amok in our government for the past few weeks may not be enough. The Nazi war machine was halted; Hitler croaked; Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot are all dead. This this pinch-sphinctered bullshit, too, will end. Small comfort, given the devastation the others left in their wake. I need more than this fatalistic tidbit. I imagine you might, too.
I’m not suggesting you ignore the onslaught, but find news illuminating what offers your worldview hope and makes room for courage. It’s like getting warm in the middle of a panic attack – it may not completely fix everything, damn, if feeling cold doesn’t make it all feel that much worse. What serves for balance and respite will vary according personality, context, and situation.
A tiny list of examples for start:
- While not a full-on break, the biting response of the rogue Twitter accounts for muzzled federal agencies gave me a wagon-fixing spike of joy.
- Megan Stielstra’s and Dia Tschirki-Penning’s #host project, a response to Oklahoma HB 1441. Pitch in, if you like:
“Megan and I are finding as many strong, heroic, in your face females we can. Tagging them as “Host”. And sending to Governor Mary Fallin.
Additionally, feel free to call her office and let her know what you think of Oklahoma’s HB 1441, which refers to women as hosts for fetuses and requires paternity tests before women are allowed to make decisions about their care. (405) 521-2342”
- Shinrin-yoku AKA “forest bathing”
- Iceland’s Best Witchcraft Museum
- Donna Seaman’s book looks amazing.
- The Curiosity app delivers 5 tidbits of varying interest each day. You can check out their site here.
- Craft some art, damn it. Write, draw, paint, act, sculpt, throw a pot, quill, quilt, knit, embroider, collage, sing, make music, dance, perform, design…
- Check out some art at, say, Colossal or the current ArtAIDS exhibit in Chicago.
- Look to folks who build community through story – check out 2nd Story and its people.
- Here are a few people and organizations helping homeless folk with tiny homes and socks (I can personally vouch for Bombas – best socks I have ever worn. For every pair they sell, they give a pair away). It’s a start.
- Southern Poverty Law Center has a multifaceted, teaching Tolerance. There are webinars, teacher’s own experiences, and resources. Not the only resource out there, but a place to start.
Is your brain tired? Want action over news?
- Plan and plant a victory garden. A move toward self-sustenance can work wonders, and watching seeds sprout and grow feels good. Here are some planting schedules to get you started.
- Or make your plans for the LGBT March on Washington.
- Run for Office tells you how to do just that.
This is just the beginning. Where do you turn for balance?