We are holding our breath. Contracting. Acutely aware of how little we actually know about what the future holds. Or more accurately put, acutely aware that we have zero idea what the future holds.
Sure, there are polls. There are predictions. Some Harvard-educated statistician somewhere is busy in a room, chugging down coffee. A psychic in Santa Cruz is checking her tea leaves. An astrologer in Detroit is looking at the alignment of the stars. Even I am playing superstitious games with myself that I first learned from my big brother when we were little kids: if I make this shot, it means Biden is going to win.
But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the most valuable thing we can do right now is not contract or try to control, not lose hope or scramble (though please, please stay on that phone banking and texting). No, the most valuable thing we can do right now is love on our people, trust one another, and trust ourselves.
When I try to make the shot, when I tell myself that Biden’s election is riding on it, I tense up and miss. When I relax into the joy of playing basketball with my daughter, it’s a swish every time. I’m proud of the way my body remembers the feel of the rubber ball in my hands, the weight and texture of it. I’m proud of her--her resilience in learning a new thing, figuring out how to get her dribble lower, how to develop the muscles required to pass from her chest.
This generation of kids is either going to be totally screwed up or turn out to be Zen masters (okay, maybe both). They’ve had to learn how to let go of expectations at every turn. No school? Okay, that’s weird, but okay. No playdates? No playgrounds? No birthdays? Ok, ok, ok. 2020 has stripped them of so many typical experiences and they have rolled with the punches. Sure, they’ve had grief. They’ve had anger. They’ve also had joy. They’ve had way more screen time than they ever could have dreamed. They’ve had their parents an arm’s length away. They’ve re-discovered toys that they thought weren’t worth playing with. They’ve learned how to plant a thing and watch it grow. They’ve been forced to befriend their siblings, and as it turns out, they’re not the worst.
My kid ripped this off of Viva Frida, but it still really blew me away when I found it in her room one morning.
I know it’s cliche, but I’m trying to be more like my kids this week. I’m watching the way they flow. I’m watching the way they have big emotional reactions, but travel through the tunnel of anger or frustration or sadness until they can get to the other side, and leave it cleanly behind. (Stella is particularly masterful at this; you should see her take a deep breath when she’s angry—both arms above her head, eyes close, lips pursed, it’s a whole body thing.) They don’t need control as much as they do grown ups around who love them and look up from their damn cell phones sometimes.
We need grown ups, too. In the White House. The kind that generally try to speak the truth and make sensible choices. The kind that are even a little boring--talking about what Stella calls “grown up stuff,” with a disgusted eye roll. I think we’re all feeling a little desperate for that kind of energy right now--a stabilizing force that, even if uninspiring, can bring back some ground rules. And then we’ll rebel against them. Just as we should.
And if things don’t go our way. If the country gets even more chaotic, we must look to each other. We will look to each other. Because that’s what we’ve been doing all this year. It’s what we’ve learned about ourselves during the pandemic. In the absence of grown ups, we rose to the occasion. We learned how to share and protect one another. Following Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and George Floyd’s murders, we learned how to show up--to safely protest, to follow the youth, to make our numbers felt in footfalls all over this reconstituting country.
We’ve been introduced to our own resilience this year and it was breathtaking. Remember?
We’ll flex those muscles we’ve been building again and keep flexing them. Maya knows how to make a protest sign during quiet time. She just might need a little help with spelling. Stella’s comfortable in her Doc McStuffins mask now. We’ll hit the streets if we need to -- to protest or to party. Either way, we’ll be okay because we’ll be together.