Surviving 2020

Last Friday here on the Trail, right after it was learned that a hero named Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died, the comments shifted, from musicals and the fires out West, to her passing:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. That is so difficult to accept.

Now it all gets surreal.

I was so sure she would simply refuse to die with 45 in office.

…I feel just hollowed out by this.

This news comes on the heels of the devastating fires in (mostly) California and Oregon; the crippled economy and school system; continued protests, violence, and looting in some cities following several instances of police brutality and murder, particularly to people of color – all this as we still struggle with the isolation and loss of life from Covid 19.

The next comment pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling as this 2020 election approaches:

…Someone close to me is having such a bad time with political events she is seeking medical help. I’m struggling too, relatively speaking. These are difficult times.

The anniversary of our son’s death was last Sunday, 9/13, and I hardly acknowledged it. Then I felt guilty for not feeling the usual grief, not doing something special to mark the day, and suddenly realized – I’m already feeling so much of a different kind of grief, it didn’t occur to me to pile any more on.

Mostly, I’ve been grieving for the country and culture I thought I knew, and thought I was living in… the place where people can feel strongly about something, but can agree to disagree, and still live and work side by side. The place where we can still respect each other and treat other civilly even when we’re totally at odds.

The level of vitriol and hateful speech that has come out, for example, over whether or not masks are worn leaves me speechless. I’ve found myself shying away from Facebook because of what I might find there. (I’ve refrained from Unfriending a couple of acquaintances from “the other side”, to see if I can figure out how they think.) I frequently run into something so nasty it makes me want to cry, for the person who posted it as much as for those of us liberals or Demon-crats it’s aimed at. I don’t want to totally give up FB because I also, at times, find very beautiful or funny things there.

So I hang out with like-minded people or baboons whenever possible. I’d like to pick your brains a bit – could be in your own words or someone else’s, could be poetry, jokes, stories, music, art … anything: 

Do you have any words of wisdom about how we all hang on till we’re through it, whatever “it” is?

67 thoughts on “Surviving 2020”

  1. How timely, BiR. I decided I need to start focusing on seeing God’s works and goodness around me in my everyday, immediate interactions and experiences, since it is hard to find comfort looking at the national news.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I assign my depressed clients the following:

      List three things everyday that you are grateful for. It can be small, ordinary things, but you have to take 30 seconds daily to do this, and bring the list in to me.

      Liked by 7 people

        1. The idea is to notice positive emotion and remember it, rather than perseverating on painful emotions, which are stronger and the mind remembers them longer. When someone is depressed the negative emotions take over. Delight will work as well as gratitude. Good for your sister.

          Liked by 5 people

        2. I think delight appeals to me because it seems more positive. Seems to me there are two sides to gratefulness. With gratefulness you might slide into a sort of negative version, coming up with thoughts like, “Well, at least the house hasn’t burned down….yet.” Delight makes you really focus on positivity.

          Liked by 3 people

  2. Thanks, BiR, for this poignant reminder that we’re not alone, we’re all struggling. To prevent myself from slipping into despair, I keep looking for the kindred spirits that give me reason to hope and to keep fighting.

    Don’t know how many baboons are familiar with the work of Tyler Childers, a fiddle player and singer/songwriter from Kentucky. He has recently released and album titled “Long Violent History.” It’s powerful.

    “Long Violent History” Lyrics:

    It’s the worst that it’s been since the last time it happened
    It’s happening again right in front of our eyes
    There’s updated footage, wild speculation,
    Tall tales, and hearsay, and absolute lies
    Being passed off as factual
    When actually the actual
    Cause is there awkwardly blocking the way
    Keeping us all from enjoying our evening
    Shoving its roots through the screens in our face

    Now what would you get if you heard my opinion
    Conjecturin’ on matters that I ain’t never dreamed
    In all my born days as a white boy from Hickman
    Based on the way that the world’s been to me
    It’s called me belligerent,
    It’s took me for ignorant
    But it ain’t never once made me scared just to be
    Could you imagine just constantly worrying
    Kicking, and fighting, and begging to breathe

    How many boys could they haul off this mountain
    Shoot full of holes cuffed and laying in the street
    ‘Till we’d come into town in a stark ravin’ anger
    Looking for answers and armed to the teeth,
    With thirty-aught-sixes,
    And Papaw’s old pistol.
    How many you reckon?
    Would it be four or five?
    Or would that be the start of a long Violent History of tucking our tails as we try to abide?

    Here’s a statement that Tyler released along with the album:

    And here is his performance of “Long Violent History”:

    Liked by 5 people

  3. A good post BiR-
    Four long years ago when tRump got elected, a lot of people did not think he would actually last four years. I didn’t. And my mom, as is her way with a lot of things, just kept saying “God will take care of it”. There’s been a few times in the last four years when I think even God didn’t expect all this. And if he’s going to take care of it, now would be a good time to start!
    I also remind myself how the country has dealt with other times like this and we have survived, the election of 1800 got pretty nasty, of course the Civil War, even the 60s, at the time, with the protests and things. And I just keep thinking we’re at one extreme and we have to come back the other way.
    I was speaking with my doctor recently and we talked about the increase in anxiety or even just situational anxiety. Just remember none of us are in this alone. It is good to find like-minded people. And turn off the news more often.
    And look for – and create- the joy around you.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Never underestimate the resiliency of the human spirit. Find the good and the wonder and the grace in everyday events and everyday people. That’s what makes up the majority of the world and of life.

    What is crammed down our throats every day in the media and now in social media represents mostly the worst of humanity and is designed to attract us for the sole purpose of enriching the pockets of those who provide the content (pols, celebs, etc.) and those who transmit is (FB, television, news sources, etc.).

    Add up the wonderful things you see, hear, and experience with the people around you and in your localized world and the bad will pale in comparison.

    Chris in Owatonna
    (Who, if he didn’t laugh at all the absurdities in the world, would certainly cry.)

    Liked by 6 people

      1. Good advice these days is to control that which you are able to control and not worry too much about things which are beyond your control. Plus it’s terribly unproductive to engage in a battle of wits with ignorant morons. 😉 They don’t care if they beat you because they win everytime you play their game.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    It seems like a poetry kind of day. It must be what we need to soothe our battered souls. I think of this, also, after having spent 4 months in the family archives. Some of those people were great souls, too, who endured so much.

    “When Great Trees Fall”

    When great trees fall,
    rocks on distant hills shudder,
    lions hunker down
    in tall grasses,
    and even elephants
    lumber after safety.

    When great trees fall
    in forests,
    small things recoil into silence,
    their senses
    eroded beyond fear.

    When great souls die,
    the air around us becomes
    light, rare, sterile.
    We breathe, briefly.
    Our eyes, briefly,
    see with
    a hurtful clarity.
    Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
    examines,
    gnaws on kind words
    unsaid,
    promised walks
    never taken.

    Great souls die and
    our reality, bound to
    them, takes leave of us.
    Our souls,
    dependent upon their
    nurture,
    now shrink, wizened.
    Our minds, formed
    and informed by their
    radiance,
    fall away.
    We are not so much maddened
    as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
    of dark, cold
    caves.

    And when great souls die,
    after a period peace blooms,
    slowly and always
    irregularly. Spaces fill
    with a kind of
    soothing electric vibration.
    Our senses, restored, never
    to be the same, whisper to us.
    They existed. They existed.
    We can be. Be and be
    better. For they existed.”

    Maya Angelou

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Ironically, two friends posted this on Facebook yesterday. I submit that your social media experience is only a good as the list of people with whom you’re friends.

      For me, bowing out, not being informed through various sources, is just not an option. I am aware, though, that it’s a good idea to limit who I engage with.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Many of my 35 living cousins found me on FB and evangelically decided to convert me to conservatism. I have no choice about who my cousins are, despite having positive friends. I was done the day FB posted a notice with one cousin’s name, saying she had been banned from FB for abusive speech. While much of this reflects family dynamics, FB just intensified it. My son also warned me early on about FB’s unethical practices, and the 2016 proved him to be correct. For me, it is not worth it. If I need something from FB I look on Lou’s account.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. One of the things that I’m grateful for is not having a lot of cousins or other relatives that I feel I need to hide from on social media or elsewhere. But that said, I also don’t accept responsibility for what any of my relatives or friends post on Facebook. I have dear friends who post what I consider really “stupid” stuff, and I just ignore it. If I feel compelled to comment, I usually do it in a private message.

          I have “unfriended” three people over a period of six years. I tried to “block” someone once, but was informed by Facebook that “blocking” would also unfriend them. So I opt to not follow certain people who consistently post stuff that isn’t necessarily offensive to me, but merely content that I find of no interest and not inspiring.

          A former sister-in-law of mine keeps posting really cutesy pictures with Hallmark-like sayings; pretty harmless drivel, but drivel nonetheless. She’s a good person, and I cut her some slack though I know we have precious little in common. I’m pretty sure she’s a DT supporter, but keeps it to herself. She has her reasons, and I have mine.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. One of my dear friends posted Maya Angelou’s poem yesterday on FB and I shared it to my timeline. Like PJ, I limit who I engage with. I have a couple cousins who are very conservative – I haven’t unfriended them on FB but do block their political posts. For quite a while now I have watched very little broadcast news – usually just PBS. Right now, despite being crushed by RBG’s death, I am concentrating on the MN Lynx BB team. They have defied the odds to reach the WNBA semi-finals and have a tough match up with Seattle. Go Lynx!! And next week I will sooth my soul with a short trip to the North Shore. Colors will be peaking -can’t wait.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I can’t recall how I learned of this, but yesterday we watched a film Quantum Potential: A Pathway to Peace on Youtube about physicist David Bohm, who, after being “exiled” from his group of Princeton phycists, ended up spending a couple of decades in conversations with Krishnamurti, the Dalai Lama, et al. about the underlying oneness of the universe. I’ve never studied physics, but the film was aimed at us “uninitiated”, and left me feeling hopeful, if I can just learn to meditate.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Just yesterday I received this message in an email from a Facebook friend. He’s a successful artist you all know, and he’s a delightful human being as well. “We must measure the darkness to know how
    many torches to bring!” I like that notion.

    Liked by 7 people

  9. I’m too deep in fear to offer words of hope this morning. That fact shocks me, for I am proud of my ability to keep on an even emotional keel. The thing I do best is failing me at the moment.

    I need to disagree with some earlier comments that referred to the threat of “conservatism.” True conservatives–and there are still quite a few of them–have fled in horror from what is happening. George Will is a conservative. Bill Kristol is conservative. People like that are shocked by what Trump and much of the Republican party now represent. If you insist on seeking glimmers of hope, one of them is the way Trump has united thoughtful conservatives and driven them to oppose him. He and his minions are more radical than conservative.

    This sort of movement is not really new. Trump and his supporters resemble the Know Nothing party that arose in the 1850s, mostly a nativist group that was freaked out by immigrants. The Know Nothings quickly split and became a footnote in history. That might seem comforting, but remember they didn’t have Fox News, Facebook or the toxic remnants of a formerly great political party to promote their ends. The monster threatening us today has more resources.

    Frightened Americans have attached themselves to the most anti-intellectual, psychically wounded, cruel and delusional man to ever wield power in American politics. We now confront a cult of personality that has extremely concerning parallels in such figures as Hitler, Putin and Mao. That fact cannot calm us. The good news is that Trump, given his age and health, will not be an effective leader much longer, and I don’t see similarly potent figures like him in his movement. But, oh how much damage these folks can do before they, too, pass into history.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. I have struggled ever since the last election to comprehend what is happening to this country. As of this morning, I finally understand things better. My new conviction is that a whole lot of people have looked at the future and decided they will not go there. Political trends, demographic trends, environmental trends, technological trends, economic trends . . . all that and more coalesce to form a picture that terrifies a lot of people. They are so scared they have come to hate the folks carrying the message of how things are and will become, so they hate the “elites” and “experts” and “scientists” and “media” because they seem to accept an America that is unacceptable to many people.

    Trump has fooled them–and probably fooled himself–into believing he can stop or reverse these trends. He has no plan, actually, but people are so fearful about the future they only hear him saying that he hates it as much as they do. So they’ll give him a blank check to fix it.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. It wasn’t sudden, PJ. I’ve spent hours of each day since the election pondering what has happened. The only thing new is that I personally think fear of the future is the main engine driving Trump supporters. That isn’t a revelation from god, just a way of viewing recent history that makes sense to me.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. Linda, is the book you were talking about this one?
    The Book of Delights, “…a genre-defying volume of lyric essays written over one tumultuous year. The first nonfiction book from award-winning poet Ross Gay is a record of the small joys we often overlook in our busy lives…But Gay never dismisses the complexities, even the terrors, of living in America as a black man or the ecological and psychic violence of our consumer culture or the loss of those he loves.”

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Thanks for this post, Barbara. It is helpful to be among those who have similar feelings. I’m grateful.
    When COVID started back in March, I was terrified. I went into quarantine two weeks before Minnesota went into lock-down. The memory care facility where my mom lives locked down on March 13. I didn’t see my mom in person until July when they allowed me in as an essential caregiver. I was grateful for that place and the staff they had there at the time.
    I like the idea of delight, of recognizing the small delights that come our way every day. We can take notice of a swallowtail butterfly on an echinacea flower or a hummingbird sipping nectar. We can feel joy and delight over a child singing or the familiar touch of someone we love. But I have to be honest: there have only been small delights around here lately, and those are migrating south as fast as they can.
    So when I quarantined myself last March, I assigned myself daily tasks: 1. Touch base with one or two people every day. Check in on them. Touch base with others weekly. Stay connected. 2. Get outside. 3. Get exercise. 4. Find beauty. 5. Remember what there is to be grateful for and pay attention to those things every day. So to start with I was grateful – deeply grateful – to mom’s memory care facility for being a safe place for my mom. I was grateful for their kind staff. I was also grateful for my own stability, health and safety, and that I was the person who had created my stability. I was grateful for my friends and for my intermittent job. I exercised my attitude of gratitude every morning after meditation, with my cup of hot coffee. It was working. I was pretty content for awhile.
    I stayed away from work for two and a half months. I went back to work at the end of May and my meditation/gratitude routine melted away with the increase of things I had to do. I began to feel stress and despair, despair! Over so many situations! Mom’s memory care place loosened their lockdown in July and I became an essential caregiver for my mom. I got even busier. I also noticed changes in the staff there. Old, familiar faces were missing and there were new faces. Some of the remaining familiar faces looked really stressed out. I was less comfortable every day. In mid-August, my mom had a serious fall and broke her hip. She was not a good candidate for hip surgery and so the fracture remains unrepaired. She was in Abbott Northwestern for a week and in Faribault’s District 1 Hospital for two days before being transferred to Abbott. I really thought we would lose her because she was seriously ill the entire time. She is back at “home” now on hospice/palliative care. I have been with her every day since she fell on August 18. I admit that I am burned out, stressed out, but unable to leave my mom because I am afraid of what might happen if I don’t monitor her situation. I almost broke down last week. A new hospice RN came and was a good listener and was very kind. She looked at me and told me that I shouldn’t come back for a few days. She promised to be there. She told me to go do something for myself. So I did. I stayed a night (expensive!) in Two Harbors and walked in the Lake, hiking two miles along Park Point Beach, all the way to Wisconsin and back, wet up to my thighs, with the pounding of the waves in my ears, the sand in my shoes and the wind in my hair. It was so good.
    So I came home and began shorter visits with mom. I don’t stay for her entire meal anymore. I’m trying to trust that they will give her time to eat, will have her up in her chair, will change her position several times a day. I want that feeling of gratitude back. I need to work on that. Today, the RN notified me that one of their staff tested positive for COVID today. The staff person was not a direct caregiver but someone who had “passed through” the memory care area. No one else has any symptoms. That person was last there on Friday. I was there on Friday and on Sunday. The facility is on lockdown again and I am not allowed to go there. So, due to the possible exposure, I am quarantining myself again. I am finally, quietly at home. The tv is off. The radio is off. If I hear of another atrocity occurring in this country, I will lose it. I will just lose it. I am so tired of it all. I’m so frustrated, fed up and disappointed in this country. I’m so sad for this country and for what I think might be happening. I’m so damn scared. (I cursed, yes, I did.) I wish I could tell you something good but it would be a lie. There’s enough lying going on and I will not add to it. Thanks to you all for reading this testimonial. I needed to say it. 🙏 Now I am grateful to all of you. 🙏

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I am so sorry to hear how things have been with you, Krista. You are facing all the threatening events happening nationally. That alone is a burden many of us struggle with. Additionally, you have your mother to worry about. That the two should afflict you at the same time seems unfair and cruel. Losing a parent to death is–or at least can be–a terrible thing. After a lot of reflection I’ve decided that the only good thing about it is that we only have to lose a father and a mother once. Good luck to your mother and good luck to you. We’ll be thinking of you.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. It’s good to know how you’ve been, Krista, even if it hasn’t been easy. Thank you for all you’ve been doing for your mother, including trusting that she will be taken care of when it was no longer possible to do that much.

      Thanks also for that list of things to (possibly) do every day. I had found a list like that at some point, and lost track of it – I think it will be useful once I am more isolated again when winter arrives.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Tonight’s dinner at our house can only be characterized as a complete flop. The worst meal we’ve had in our forty-one years of marriage. It was such a flop, that the only thing to do was laugh hysterically – which we did.

    We had invited a friend for dinner – a socially distanced dinner in the back yard. She was supposed to arrive at 4 PM. At about 3:30 PM a brief thunderstorm made our arrangement look a little iffy; at 3:50 PM we called the dinner off. So here I was with a half cooked meal (pasta peperonata with tuna and olives) and not sure whether or not we could have our friend over tomorrow. At about 5:30 PM came the verdict that we could not have our dinner tomorrow (things got complicated), so we decided on Friday evening.

    At this point, I had already packaged up what had already been cooked and stowed it away in the fridge.

    So what’s for supper? Pizza! We had one in the freezer and decided to cook it on our outdoor grill. We’ve done this once before with a great result, so tonight Hans was going to improve upon the technique by using our pizza stone on the grill. This proved to be a disaster. Every inch of the crust on the bottom had turned into charcoal, literally. Scraping off the cheese, tomato, mushrooms and peppers didn’t turn out to be such a great idea either. Hans is now up picking up Thai take-out.
    I suggested that this might be the kind of meal that we should take photos of and post to Facebook. For some reason my spouse didn’t like the idea.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sounds stressful, PJ. But Thai takeout rarely disappoints. I briefly lived in the home of a man who felt the need to be prepared for unexpected dinner guests. He kept steaks in the freezer and expensive scotch in a cabinet. He knew that freezing a steak does nothing for its palatability. That’s where the expensive scotch came in. “After three or four doubles of scotch, my steaks tasted great.”

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Thanks, BiR. Frank was a character. His hobby was conducting invisible orchestras. Had an expensive baton that lived in an elegant little box. From time to time Frank would crank up the volume on his “steereo” and conduct a performance, throwing in many dramatic gestures when his musicians were missing the tempo or lagging in emotion.

        Like

    2. We are “doctoring ” some butternut squash risotto that got unaccountabley salty. Husband almost scorched two creusetware pots in the process. The risotto now has garden shell out beans in it.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve been thinking about this all day and I’m not sure if I’m doing anything special… just plodding forward, doing a little more of all the things that center me since I’m currently unemployed. Reading, cooking, gardening, crafting. Making a lot of cards for charities the last few months. Oh, and walking the dog. Definitely staying away from media. Between facebook and the trail, I’m getting enough news. More just makes me anxious.

    Liked by 5 people

  15. Bernard Malamud once wrote something about the McCarthy era, and I can’t find the precise quote at the moment, but after describing the mood of the nation, he wrote “America was, in the best sense of a bad word, Un-American.”

    However dark those days were, they did pass, McCarthy fell out of favor, and a lot of his most fear-mongering rhetoric seemed to die with him. Much as I shudder when I hear the present occupant of the White House expounding about patriotic education for our schoolkids, I have to believe the tide will turn.

    Liked by 5 people

  16. My “thing” has been walks in my neighborhood. I don’t go far – maybe a mile or mile and a half round trip. I listen to what’s around me, keep an eye out for small or unusual or ethereal things. I drink in the smells – the sharp and the sweet. I take a photo or two. Mostly it’s about moving in space and paying attention to that moment in time. Friends have asked to walk with me – and as delightful as it is to walk with a friend, the walks are not quite the same.

    Liked by 4 people

  17. I am reading the blog while a wild but purring Tortie cat has decided my lap is the perfect place for ear and cheek scritches and caresses. Very soothing. I think I will sleep better tonight.

    Liked by 4 people

  18. sorry you all are feeling so distressed. i am just at it everyday and listenung to my books on tape, fascinated by all the stuff there is. bill bryson the body is fantastic but a little dry, motovational stuff is my regular. just got the new brene brown book. love her.
    im almost relieved to make sense out of the weird trumpy kind of stuff ive been trying to understand for years. obama was handcuffed, newt set the table to make awful behavior the new gop mantra and now we see how the lead they laid out got bushwhacked by the nutcase and cancerized.

    it doesnt really matter if it doesnt make much sense.
    the folks who damage every thing and vote for trump vote for pence
    they rally round the flag and embarass me to be
    an american in 2020 for all the world to see

    its hard to watch the best idea ever brought to man
    torn down by ugly hatred just because they can
    its hard to understand what deliht comes from this behavior
    praise the lord and cage the kids in the name of their christian savior

    the basis of lies and disregard for people is a sin
    and not a good foudation to set your foundation in
    i never realized before this go round that it was so damn strong
    now forty percent of the usa has proved my faith in man was wrong

    youve got to guard the things that matter before they go away
    once theyre gone theyll not be back not in a million days
    compassion love and respect is the backbone of our soul
    made us the torch that leads the world tries to make the world whole

    weve seen now what can happen if we take our eyes off of the ball
    and let the things that make us great be sold to lying selfish calls
    that point out what a difference makes each side really tick
    if lies deceit and racist acts are allowed are country is sick

    i have faith we will come back because we just must
    we cant turn to ugly and lose the worlds trust
    we really are great but its good that we know
    that it doesnt come naturally for those who have showed

    they will bully and steal and care of themselves
    in the name of more protectionist lying little elves
    they know that the really great way to come out ahead
    is to lock out the needy the starving tired and poor til theyre dead

    put them in cages they shouldnt have come
    and kneel on their necks then burn down the slums
    crush all the protesters stop any non voices
    they dont want to hear about other choices

    we thought those were exceptions extreme sickos they
    no respectable conservative would sit back and say
    weve no blood on our hands it isnt out fault
    send them back to their nations let us keep our vault

    no sharing its mine, i want more for me
    i want you and yours gone far away cant you see
    americas greatness this times on the line
    is it give me your poor or mine mine mine mine.

    Liked by 4 people

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