Sunday, 13 November 2016

Little Things Mattered This Week

I attended Torah study at my synagogue yesterday morning and a friend asked me how I was doing. Apparently, my post-election musing gave her pause to worry about my mental health. After assuring her that I am actually much better than fine, I started thinking about the tsunamis of sadness that have been sweeping over friends and family in light of "the incident". One rabbi friend even went so far as to suggest that we as a liberal community might be sitting a sort of emotional shiva in order to mourn our collective loss. And while all of that might be true, I am heartened by some specks of positive stories that have been trickling in. Increased donations to progressive causes, mobilization of voices that are documenting the hate, and an increased vigilance by those who dedicate their lives and careers to helping the oppressed, are all starting to emerge in the light of last Tuesday's political earthquake. The road ahead will be potholed, but not yet hopeless.

But, I also realized that in the wake of such a soul-crushing and mind-numbing defeat there was real import in taking care of one's own psychological well-being. We can only be strong and resolute in opposition if we find joy in our own lives. To that end, I started thinking about the little things that bring me a small measure of contentment and peace. These aren't obvious things like family, love, and health. These are the things that we rarely stop to acknowledge during our everyday lives that we just flat out enjoy, without judgment. Here are a few of my little happy places that have rescued me this week.
  • Sucking back an ice cold Diet Coke. Please don't lecture me on the dangers of aspartame and caffeine. There exists pure relaxation in my Diet Coke breaks.
  • Watching old movie musicals on TCM. Guys and Dolls was on this afternoon. I think I've seen it over a hundred times and even though Marlon Brando is sadly miscast and Jean Simmons can't sing a note, I was once again happily enraptured by the Runyonesque gamblers and their girls. The Husband looked over at me mindlessly singing along to Luck be a Lady, smiled sweetly and told me how much he loved me in that moment. How bad can the world be when that happens?
  • In the wake of Leonard Cohen's death this week, I spent several hours just quietly listening to his songs. Music is healing and cathartic and I think that Leonard instinctively understood that. The irony of his passing during this week of weeks has not been lost on me. It was as though he cosmically wanted all of us to focus on other things for just a brief moment in time instead of the shit.
  • Dinner with girlfriends on Wednesday. All we did was talk trash and laugh. 
  • The receiving of random text messages from my sons about everyday stuff. Baseball, Broadway, and birthdays. It reminded me that even though the world often feels out of control, my people matter most right now.
  • Last night I went up to the rooftop of our building and looked out over the cityscape. It was all lit up in the cold, clear November moonlight. The tower stood illuminated in bright red as if to remind me that my country is still a beacon in the world and our neighbours to the south can count on our support. 
  • I attended a Remembrance Day event on Friday for the Jewish War Veterans of Canada. About fifty of us stood outside in the whipping winds along with a minyan of Canada's bravest. Old warriors stood straighter than usual and saluted as a solitary trumpet played The Last Post. I nervously fiddled with the poppy on my jacket as my mind drifted to the new struggles that lay ahead and I was strangely invigorated. I found a measure of clarity.
  • We celebrated a family birthday with elegance because sometimes they just need to be marked and marked well.
Healing takes time. Make yourself a priority for a bit and stop to revel in the little things. This week they mattered a lot. 

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