This morning I woke up thinking: A person who was once recorded saying, “You can do anything… Grab ’em by the pussy,” about what a famous man can do to a woman, was elected president of the United States. Inescapably, this is the reality of November 9th, 2016, forevermore.
In response, it might be tempting to: not get out of bed; rack up in your mind frightening scenarios about Third World Wars (because if Brexit and Trump can happen, France’s far right Marine Le Pen—who tweeted, “Congratulations to the new President of the US, Donald Trump, and the American people – free!”—could be next, and a chilling domino effect of rule by fear and hate would be irreversibly underway); or to start yelling and cursing loudly, everywhere (more than you already have); or, finally, to stop trying to do anything that you previously thought mattered because Donald Trump, a bumbling, lying, poorly-read (and possibly illiterate) misogynist was elected President. Obviously, nothing you thought you knew about the world, and our country, or the majority of people in it, was as it seemed.
So why not give into an abyss of apathy and despair and start doing whatever the fuck you want? Because, if you live in New York City and are reading this, it is likely that your own personal nightmare, and worst case scenario—the very one you suspected was actually impossible—has come to pass.
And yet: Last night, when Trump was announced president elect of the United States, our solar system did not implode. This morning, the sun came up (albeit hidden, somewhat, like a flag at half-mast, in mourning), and you woke up again. Right now, as you read this, you might even be drinking a delicious cup of coffee. Clearly, you see, because I am my father’s daughter, and for better and sometimes worse, I am an optimist (even though today I am one despite my far better judgment and reason), and I am compelled to offer some perspective. Here, then, are some things to do, and think about, and keep in mind, to get you through—and maybe even see beyond—one of the worst days that you’ve lived as an American.
Talk to a Canadian (or just a good friend); they offer relieving sympathy
Because we are people, all we want in life is to seen, and be heard, and understood. I am a lucky person who knows some Canadians, and they, in my experience, are unusually sympathetic people who can do that; plus they are highly reasonable. And so last night a couple of them went to great lengths to calm me down. One said, “Your own worth doesn’t depend on whether your countrymen elect some tacky salesman to represent them in high office. Better nations have chose worse representatives. C’est la vie.” (They also speak French! Charming.) Another sent me a picture of a watch party in Toronto where the projection screen was bent and broken, and thereby made Rudy Giuliani’s face look like a Cone Head. So that was a good laugh. And then he said, “There are many people, in a corner bar, sympathizing for you.” How nice! How lovely. Connecting with people who get you makes everything feel livable again. Canadians (and, again, good friends) will do that for you. Connect with one today.
Remember the words of Winston Churchill
Many people, especially confident and driven New Yorkers, likely believe the path toward the Good and Better hinges on a long string of uninterrupted victories. Well, yes, that is one path—but it’s also unrealistic. Because this is life. Exhibit A: Last night’s election. America failed last night. Big League. But, Sir Churchill offers wisdom and a more realistic version of success, a kind that humans are actually capable of. “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” And, in fact, I do believe this would be the same definition of success that one intelligent, relentless, highly-accomplished Senator, Secretary of State, lawyer, and grandmother—HRC—would have us believe in today, too. Now, more than ever, we must fight as if last night were just a blip on the radar (even if it’s more than that!), and continue to fight for what we believe is true and right: women’s rights; gun control; affordable heath care for all; paths to citizenship, you name it, whatever humane policy point it might be, continuing to fight for them now, more passionately than ever, is of paramount importance. Humans and movements will always fail, at times; but they’ll also persevere, and prevail. We made it through eight years of Bush. We can make it through this if we just keep fighting with heads high.
Be grateful for wildly varying—and even appalling—points of view that are not your own
Greek philosopher Heraclitus proposed a theory called The Unity of Opposites: i.e., the world is composed of one, big, warring body of opposites—heat, cold; wetness, dryness; up, down; good, evil—and no one pair of opposites (including good and evil; or Hillary and Trump) could exist without its opposite. Because, it is only through opposites that we know and can define anything at all—including ourselves, and what we believe in. Last night, Trump and his followers made us know more firmly and confidently than ever who they are, and who we are. With that juxtaposition, and the clarity and knowledge that comes with it, our fight to restore decency can be stronger and better directed; our medicine, and resolve to fix was is bad and broken, can (and must) be better and more effective than before.
Read something good
One year, I lived in Japan. I was isolated and it was long and cold (no central heating!) and, after a while, continuing to live there felt like a slog: No matter the effort I put into it, I, and the world around me, did not see eye to eye. That’s what America feels like today! And, what is life without connection to others? Well, for me, the answer was: Books. By reading, and therefore conversing with people who were very smart and entertaining (even if they were dead) reminded me that, even if not right in front of me (nor in America right now), there are still things bigger and grander and more important than our immediate realities, or, in this case, depression. There is wisdom, reason, great stories that make us realize how to live better, and how good it can be. Plus, there are jokes, and laughter. All of these things last longer than any given election cycle. And you can access them by reading something fantastic today, and then live in that for an hour or two, for momentary relief.
Watch something idealistic
I love Star Trek. It is a warm cozy womb where everything is clean and Star Fleet’s prime directive, to not disturb any other civilization that is unlike its own, rules all. Plus, there is peace on Earth, and Jean Luc Picard is very hot and smart, and watching that makes me feel better, too. It might be escapist, but, today, a little escapism couldn’t hurt. Alternately, binge watch anything at all that makes you believe the world can be a different way. Live in a fantasy to tip the scale back to a less awful place, at least in your head.
No explanation needed. Watch John Oliver, Samantha Bee, old Jon Stewart. It is always and forever the fastest and greatest remedy for what ails us, and to make us not only think, but feel, that everything will be ok.
Incorrigibly continue to be yourself and live normal days
The thing that the other side wants is to see you sad, and stop doing everything. But another antidote to insanity is normalcy. So make lunch, write emails, have drinks with friends, work. This will remind you that, despite some bad changes, life as we know it, at its core, is the same and will continue to be so.
Perception is reality: Believe in good things, that things are still good (or, if you prefer, believe in magic)
You know who else believes in doing this, and got his way because of it? Trump. He created his own delusional place that he lived inside of, and lived by, and then got everybody else to follow him there, and believe the same things. We can do that, too! We can believe that everything will be ok, and that most people are still very good—because they are. We can go about our days almost as if Clinton had been elected, and in so doing start momentum back up in that direction, and make the world over feel and believe the same. We can make choices, and behave in accordance with a different reality than the one we woke up to today (the whole, “When they go low…” bit). Call this wishful thinking, call it ill-advised—but if you were Trump, you’d call it smart. Because if you did, and so intractably ignored reality (and truth and decency) today, you’d be our next president.