Someone had hit me. It literally knocked the wind out of me–thud.
I instinctively wore black. It wasn’t a question. It is what’s expected after a death…when you’re in mourning. For the next three days I adorned myself with a variety of shades of black. And it was on the third day when I felt like it was time to step out of my haze and engage the world around me; I picked a new color–red.
It was almost as if my acceptance of our shared defeat was being recast from stages of grief to colors of grief. The gnawingly cantankerous part of this situation is that I had already grieved. My process of acceptance began several months earlier as I listened, yes listened, to what he was saying–what they wanted to hear. I said out loud–he might actually win this thing.
The haze was so great the next morning it was as if an actual smoke bomb had gone off in my room and I was fighting to see and breath–but felt comfort in the void. I lurked in the background knowing that just beyond the haze I would see that he had won and that the world as we knew it would never be the same again.
And I don’t write in platitudes; no, I simply mean that the specific moment in time had past and we were already looking at history. We were already in moments of reflection, considering how we had gotten it wrong; the people were ready for real change; our electoral system made this happen…the list would and will go on.
When I went to sleep in the early morning hours after, the last public thought I shared with the world was: “Tomorrow.” As I awoke out of the haze from the day before it was tomorrow and I was moving forward. I have always believed that I live for tomorrow and what I do today shapes tomorrow and so I move forward.
The thing is we all have to move forward…because we are all living for someone’s tomorrow–whether we are dead or live. Our history was someone’s future, our future will be someone’s history, and only our present will be our past. Us and only us will be able to own our section of this world’s story–and I care about my section. In the future we will be judged by how we react at this moment in our past.
The morning before the haze my partner asked how I was feeling about the outcome of the election–whichever way it goes. My response was methodic and pragmatic and distinctly dispassionate as I often am: “I’m not concerned too much because whoever wins our job as citizens is to hold them accountable and to ensure they govern to the center as much as we can.” Sans critique of the lack of sentence structure, in a moment of reflection at a time later, I realized I had already crafted my prepared response for us not winning.
It’s been a week. The haze is gone.
I was reminded of a public message I shared in the days after the Orlando PULSE Nightclub attack. The message was simple: “I promise to continue showing up. I promise to continue standing up. I promise to never be silenced. I promise to fight until my very last breath. I promise to show up…for all of you.” As we move forward, as we must, it is important to never forget to show up–because someone is counting on us, on you.
Our Republic is greater than any one person. It is our collective selves that work to ensure our Republic is churning and changing. It is our collective selves that work to ensure equity and balance sings true for all. Notably we often find ourselves at the brink of destruction when we find inexplicable paths of resistance forward together. The result of the inexplicable paths of resistance forward in recent time has been the outcome of this 2016 US presidential election.
We move forward.
No individual can assume the mantle of the leader of the free world, the President of the United States of America, and not be instantaneously changed–we all just hope that the change is for the better. The Office of the President is an Institution not a person. The Office of the President is kept in check by a judicial branch, a legislative branch made up of the Senate and House of Representatives, and most importantly by us–we, the people.
If we are not fully engaged in our governance then we can not voice concern when things aren’t going the way we want them. You have to remember that choosing inaction is still taking action. If you feel nothing good came out of this election maybe you’ll see that you were inspired to engage in your governance and to hold your elected officials accountable.
This wasn’t a message of great insight. This was not meant to be some powerful moment that inspired an “aha”. This was me processing my thoughts. Getting emotions out. This was simply me reminding myself that I made a promise…a promise to show up…for all of you.
Who is showing up with me?