The past few days have really reminded me how emotional I can get about politics. For sports fans out there who not only support a certain team but have an emotional stake in that team’s losses and victories; who wait with bated breath for the outcome of a game; who theorize on end about strategy and key players and rules and fouls; who cheer and yell and throw things and explode: I hear you. I get it now.
When my personal life gets particularly stressful, I put a news podcast on, I read the newspaper. It seems counter-intuitive, but listening to or reading the news calms me down in two important ways: it distracts me from my personal problems, and it puts those problems in a healthier perspective by reminding me of my place in the broader scheme of things. However, I haven’t quite figured out what to tune in to when it’s the other way around.
Amidst my manic flurry of new documents, spreadsheets, and Post-it notes dedicated to organizing a whole year’s worth of finances, vacations, reading lists, goals, and priorities, I forgot to factor in November 2020.
In just this first week of February, I felt something hit me almost every day. There was the anxiety and frustration surrounding the Iowa caucuses. Then, highlights from the State of the Union that quite frankly sent me into a mild depressive mood. The tight-lipped anger after the Senate impeachment acquittal, and a rush of Hallmark-worthy warm feelings inspired by Mitt Romney’s small rebellion. Underlying it all is a thin layer of self-awareness reminding me, for the sake of my own mental wellbeing, not to take these things too seriously. (And another, more self-righteous layer beneath that, quipping: “It’s only the fate of the country, after all.”)
I keep these feelings (mostly) to myself. There are so many things in my own little world and the overlapping worlds of the people around me that require immediate attention; I know there’s no use in exhausting myself over forces out of my control.
As protection from the incoming blizzard of a long year ahead, I’m hoping to find some reprieve in my immediate community. I have a new job that keeps me busy and that I thoroughly enjoy. I have Syzygy, which is its own little ecosystem and a useful outlet for me—I can support, lead, initiate, enact change, and feel good about contributing to a mission that I believe is doing something positive for the world. I may not have much of an impact on where this country goes, but I can have an impact on my friends, my community, my neighborhood, my city.
I still don’t believe in completely isolating yourself from politics when it all gets to be too much. We are all citizens of the world, and it’s important to live our lives consciously and deliberately; the world is an interconnected web of people, forces, ideas, events, energy, and actions through which a single touch can send vibrations deep into the most remote spaces, both physical and otherwise. With that being said, however, we (especially I) as citizens of this world need to remember that no, we are not Atlas, we do not carry its entire weight.