Today is a good day to remember

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Today is a good day to remember who you were in 2015.

You don’t need to romanticize the past, or gloss over the bad parts if you don’t want to. You needn’t discard the hard won lessons of the last four years. But if you can, think back to who you were then. What were you doing? Were you happy doing it? What were your thoughts and feelings about the world?

Today is a good day to remember.

Personally, I was a recent college grad turned cashier. Work was rough sometimes, but I got to make music and play videogames on weekends. I had a garden space of my own. I had some lovely housemates, and those lovely housemates had a dog and two cats. It was a happy household. I read poetry a lot. I dreamed of singing opera professionally on a regular basis. I was sending audition material to grad schools. Deep down, I wasn’t sure if I was really “good enough,” though I can tell you now that this particular story has a happy ending.

And today is a good day to remember. 

I liked to cook a lot. Sometimes I tried new recipes. I rode the bus to and from work, and so would do small grocery shopping trips on my commute. One day it’d be some sausages that were on sale, another day some mushrooms that were getting sad (and cheap). 

Today is a good day to remember. 

Sometimes I would ride the bus into town, and simply wander. I’d ponder the stark contrast between where I lived and the wealthier parts of town, and sometimes be upset by it. I’d sit on any bench that was near running water and let the rushing sound ease any pain I was feeling. If it was in the budget, I would treat myself to a used book. Or maybe a beeswax candle. Nothing brightens up a space like the scent of a quality beeswax candle. 

Today is a good day to remember.

Remember how your brain worked before Twitter and Facebook became almost inescapable. Remember the times before Lord Dampnut dominated every headline. 

Remember when cruelty and apathy was not the norm in so many places. 

Back in 2016, Authoritarianism expert Sarah Kendzior wrote this piece. I remember reading it, and trying to take the advice, but not quite understanding it.

Now I do. 

It will take time to process what we have just been through. As a nation (and a world) we have been under a lot of stress for a long time. Our brains don’t yet understand that a significant chunk of the danger has passed, so we’ll have to help ourselves along.

Because yes, there will be others like Lord Dampnut. And they’ll probably have nice haircuts and speak with their inside voice, so we need to be ready. Not by stressing ourselves out, but by paying attention and participating in elections in large numbers. The more of us that do this, the harder it is to mess with the process. 

That, and there’s plenty of enablers who will go on to write books and try to normalize themselves. Don’t give them any oxygen. 

If you, dear reader, are trying to contemplate how to apply the political lessons you have learned in a world where Lord Dampnut is no longer president, then there are plenty of simple things you can do.

Read up on what our new President has been up to. Do you think these actions are sensible? What do you like? What don’t you like? What do you want to see more of? Learn to examine his actions with honesty and good faith. Use those critical thinking skills!

How are things in your local state legislature? Are there any small offices in your community that you could run for?

If you need a month or two to take a break from traditional politics (or if you plan on fleeing into a forest, never to return) how about donating to a food bank? Or tending a garden for pollinators?
And if you (like so many Americans right now) do not have the resources right now for such things, then please find a way to be kind to yourself. Find a weird old public domain story on Project Gutenberg. Take a look at the Pyramids at Giza, or wherever else you would like to see. Or turn the screen off and read an old paper book, if you prefer.

There is still much to do. COVID19 doesn’t care about politics and it’s had a long time to spread. But a large weight has been lifted, and taking care of mental health is not optional.

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