I cannot remember a crazier roller coaster ride in a very long time. Such hopeful highs and such crushing lows. Perhaps the election results thrilled you, left you in despair, or had little impact at all. For me – it has been a week. A year. An 18 months.
Watching the results that night, I could feel the tension building, sense the creaking car chugging up the completely exposed rails. It’s often the rhythmic click-click-click, as the ascent continues, that is the scariest. I may not have been on this exact ride before (who has? who could’ve ever imagined it?) but my gut has a growing sense of what’s coming. The free-fall that is about to happen. The floor that is about to drop out from under me. That’s when I start having the irrational yet still calm thoughts of, “I’d like to get out now, please.”
“Hello? Yes, please cancel my ride, I’ve changed my mind.”
Only no one is there, and the apex has been reached so there’s nowhere to go but down. Crashing down. And crash, I did.
I’m not exactly what you would call a political junkie but I found myself extremely emotionally invested in this U.S. election. My roller coaster took me from surprised to concerned to stunned to all-out fear. And that only got me to 9 p.m. The rest of the “ride” still feels deeply personal and I’ve been in an absolute cocoon ever since.
News embargo, very little social media, no NPR, and lots of quiet time. Cooking things like cauliflower gratin, and garlic shrimp with artichoke hearts. Sitting in the back yard during this freakishly warm fall, watching the dogs run, sniff, and chase squirrels. I know myself well enough to realize that I must guard against a total shutdown and so I processed with a co-worker, shared my heart with a couple of girlfriends, and listened to a few soul-strengthening messages.
This morning, through a seemingly random series of clicks while doing some research for work, I wound up at the zoo. I’d seen this many times, but today the orangutan’s awe, innocence and wonder were just what I needed and even though I knew what was coming, I still enjoyed the first belly laugh I’ve had in days.
I decided that I wanted – needed – more. So I went out and corralled a few of my favorites, most of which you’ve probably seen before. But it’s their very familiarity that I find so consoling. An obvious reminder but one that I find comforting: I laughed before, I can laugh now, I’ll laugh again in the days to come. Sounds obvious but sometimes I need reminders in the valleys.
Maybe you could use a laugh, too. Find what tickles you and revel in it. Maybe you need to share your disappointments, too. Reach out to a safe friend and share your heart. Maybe you need to treat yourself with extra care and comfort, too. Light some candles, splurge on gelato, soak in a tub, whatever fills your soul. And laugh. Laugh until your belly hurts.