Coping with the New Normal

Stand out from the crowd (Credit: TARGETjobs) 

Stand out from the crowd (Credit: TARGETjobs) 

I instituted a news blackout at 10:00pm on election night, 11/8/16.  Several weeks later I lifted the ban (it’s like a three ply maroon velveteen curtain with a thick black liner).  I let in the presidential cabinet announcements and then, a few days later, pulled the curtain closed, indefinitely, maybe for four years.  I can’t afford to pay attention to all that, to let it infiltrate my spirit, to waste my time.  

There are way more important things to spend my life’s time on – like re-listening to Krista Tippet interview Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh on her podcast, On Being http://www.onbeing.org

My best moments are always when I’m dwelling in my heart.  Taking notice of goodness and beauty and hilarity.  Drinking in those things that make me gasp with wonder, smile at bounty and drop or tear or two for joy.

I’ve found writing fairy tales can bring a moment or two of respite from some sorts of upsetting truths.  The following is one I wrote in my writers group, as the day for the US Electoral College to vote loomed large.

STONE SHOCK

The ambulance arrived faster than they expected. It had been cruising down Pemberton Ave., which was only four blocks from their house.

Cinderella opened the door, wringing her hands in her soiled apron.  She directed the two EMTs through the grand front hall to the wide staircase leading up to her stepmother’s bedroom.  As they passed the doorway to the library she noticed her two Republican stepsisters frantically opening the drawers of the large oak desk and rifling through them.

The female EMT, Natalia, spoke first.  “Can you tell us what happened?”

“Well,” said Cin, “She was watching Fox news from her bed when I heard a most awful scream then a sort of choking sound.  I ran up here from the kitchen as fast as I could and there she was – just like she is right now.”

They had reached the open double doors to a huge, heavily furnished bedroom – all satined and chandeliered.  On the big round bed sat a middle aged woman frozen in a pose with her right arm extended, clenched teeth behind parted lips, her eyes bugging out and her index finger pointing stiffly at the 60 inch television screen across the room.  The sound was turned up to the max with a headshot of Bill O’Reilly looking apoplectic.  He was repeating over and over, “The Electoral College voted her in. The Electoral College voted her in and him out. 

The male EMT, Reginald, stepped quickly over to the TV and turned it off. Natalia went to the bedside, gently wrapped her fingers around the woman’s wrist and spoke to her partner, “Another one – just like the last two we brought in.”

“Another one, what?” asked Cin.

“Well,” said Reginald, “in almost every call we’ve gotten today we’ve found people in this exact state while listening to the news about the election turnover. Its like rigor mortis has set in but their hearts are still beating.  The docs at the emergency room have never seen anything like it.”

Thank God for Obamacare, Medicaid and Medicare.  It would come to pass that in one twenty four hour period seventeen million Americans would require long term nursing care for an affliction that would become known as Stone Shock.  Many lived out their entire lives frozen in the position they had been in when the news hit them.  Others, a small percentage, were able to undergo an extensive recovery regime that, while most were relegated to a wheelchair existence, they did regain the ability to speak.  And boy oh boy did they have a lot to say.

By far the most stunning images of Stone Shock were taken from Congress.  It was actually quite moving to see how compassionate and helpful all the Democratic Senators and Representatives were to their rigidified Republican colleagues.

The transformation of the nation was remarkable.  Historians would come to call it the Emerald Era of America.  The greening of both its environment and an ever-growing compassion for it’s afflicted. 

You may wonder what happened to our Cinderella.  Well, she went another way.  She left her place of servitude and hit the road in search of any other Cinderellas there might be out in the world.  She commandeered her step sisters’ minivan and had one hell of a good time connecting what would become known as The Rellas – a vast network of smart, hard working women who helped Elizabeth Warren get elected President in 2020 then all retired to an expatriate enclave on the west coast of Costa Rica.