Election week. The week of dawning horror for so many, and the realisation of nightmares. A week the world has lost a great songwriter. A week which will be emblazoned into many people’s memories, for one reason or another. A funny sort of week to start being filled with thankfulness again – to the point of writing, something I’ve not done in a long, long time, it seems – and yet I am. Very thankful.
When Brexit happened, people clamoured for a re-vote, a re-do, another chance to have their say and this time maybe say something else than they had done, now they knew the results. Many people claimed to have voted Leave, because they didn’t really think it would happen – they didn’t really think their vote would make the difference. People believed in the solemnity of that vote, nationally regarded as ‘possibly the most important vote of your lives’. People turned up. That vote boasts one of the highest percentages of the total population turning out to have their say. Every vote counted, yet people somehow still didn’t believe in the power of their ‘X’, marked next to their preference.
I wonder if the same is happening in America, where people are clamouring, desperate for a re-count, a re-vote, a re-do…a chance to UNdo what’s been done? I heard it was a low turn-out, but still every single ‘X’ made a difference in showing the peoples’ preference. I wonder how many people now wish they’d chosen differently, or could try again now they know the outcome. I wonder too, how many on both sides of the pond are pleased with the results of these landmark polls this year? How many stand to benefit? How many just want to see what happens?
What has happened has been similar, in ways – an apparent legitimising of violence, a validation of prejudice, a tumbling dischord as divides between camps are pushed ever further, knives pushed deeper, exclusivity endorsed, people devalued according to their label or look. There have been people in shock, in grief, in mourning for what they believe could have been, and what they feel now lies in tatters, damaged beyond repair. I have read of terror, of panic, of criminal acts perpetrated in the name of warped principles. I have read of shame and embarrassment and a deep, abiding hurt.
But also this week I have seen triumphs of the human spirit in the face of mass discouragement. I have seen determination in the face of derision. I have seen grace and graciousness in the face of threats and ridicule. And on the day of the results, there were rainbows looped bright across the sky, and more since…each seeming to outdo those previous for vibrancy and light.
These times seem to bring out the best and the worst in people.
I am thankful for the people who have chosen to behave according to their higher principles. I applaud those who have spread messages of encouragement, of hope, of love. I am delighted to see so many hands extended in friendship and unity, in spite of the agony of knowing the world will not be the same again, and for the most vulnerable in American society, it seems suddenly a wasteland, bereft of hope, except in those people who are determined to stand with them, ally themselves with those declared ‘less than’, and insist that together, they will be stronger, they will prevail.
Against what, who knows? As with Brexit, the parameters are not set. The ideas are vague and not yet established in the popular consciousness except as a widening of the gap between Us and Them. Who precisely ‘we’ and ‘they’ are, depends very much on with whom you’re speaking, but as we face flux throughout the West, it is immensely heartening to know so many who are determined not to let it get them down, not to let it change them into that which they are not. Those whom I can count amongst my friends, have made me immensely, immensely proud to know them, and it has been a privilege to bear witness to their grace and fortitude.
Long may it last, for I’m sure it will be tested, but for this too, in an odd way, I’m thankful. I sometimes think times of adversity are needed to help us find the best in ourselves (or, conversely, to cause us to give in and become our worst selves). The self is a thing in flux, and it needs shaking up every now and again, to see what still fits, what no longer matters, and what should be grafted anew – sometimes what we need is the opportunity, and a situation of complacency is rarely (if ever) that.
To every person I know who has written or reached out with the aim of encouraging, offering empathy, extending compassion, building bridges, and moving forwards, THANK YOU ❤
I’ll stand down now, and step into the wings, to share some thankfuls with far less grandiosity. A huge HUGE one for me is that I am writing at all…that I *want* to write (and that I haven’t forgotten how (or have I? You tell me!).
The past number of months have been increasingly difficult with some health concerns, a family loss, and myriad other big/small/bizarre turbulations of my world. The health concerns were the things which I think affected my writing most – I’ve been struggling with what I can only assume is PMDD, which has left me one week a month feeling wretched, with absolutely no desire to write, to do anything, or even to live. Having established a pattern, I went to my GP and she prescribed me a different version of the pill (which I take to control periods made horrendous by endometriosis) and she hoped a change in the balance of hormones might make the difference. Well…it seems to have worked, and though I’ve spent a week on tenterhooks waiting for my mood to suddenly drop off the edge, it hasn’t. As to the endometriosis, I now have surgery scheduled for a month’s time, which should hopefully put paid to its dreadful influence, and leave me hale and whole and WELL.
In the time I’ve been low, I’ve been so, so grateful for the people who’ve kept in touch, who’ve kept my spirits boosted, and who’ve been with me every step whilst I’ve felt unable to improve upon the silence. I’ve been so thankful for those who haven’t given up on me or turned their backs, for those who’ve forgiven my sporadic contact with them, and for those who have made sure that no matter my ‘presence’ online or off, I know I still have a place in their hearts.
I’ve been thankful for quiet times reading books, when I was unable to bear the ‘rigors’ of managing my real world. I’ve been thankful for a resurgence in ‘oomph’ and my ability to get myself to the gym. I’ve been thankful for times spent with loved ones, for walks in the beauty of autumn, and for the realisation that I’m able to see autumn as beautiful, in spite of the cold and its heralding of darkness and winter-time. I’ve been *incredibly* thankful it hasn’t been too rainy yet…
I’m thankful for my job, for its flexibility and for the opportunity I have to pursue some massage training whilst on this side of the pond, as the matter of my student visa seems one without a quick (or possibly any) solution. I’m thankful for my role in my team, and my place in the esteem and work-world of my colleagues. I’m thankful for new, engaging projects, and so much potential for doing good. I’m thankful I’m working tomorrow at a conference, that I like interacting with lots and lots of people, that I enjoy educating to the best of my ability, about the impact of diabetes. I’m glad I have that chance, and that I’m part of a system which aims to care for people.
I’m thankful for glitterbombs and the pleasure they give me in gathering meaningful gifts and toys and tokens of affection. I’m thankful for the thoughts I have about the joy they might bring when they’re recieved. I’m thankful that when I put words in a card to someone (or they to me), it’s real and tangible and it matters. I’m so, SO thankful for friendship, and I’m delighted when I’m shown snippets of the joy my parcels and letters bring.
Tonight I’m thankful for an empty jar of vegan protein powder (bear with me), which gave me the idea that once emptied, it could hold home-made pickled onions (a bit of a Christmas tradition in my family, though my Dad’s corner of things…and this year we’ve not been much in touch, so I feel funny about ringing him up to ask about them). Tonight I cycled my little legs off to get to the greengrocer’s before it shut, and bought a 5kg bag of pickling onions, 2 litres of malt vinegar, and a packet of pickling spice. I put Bach’s Christmas Music on the computer, and stood at the counter in the kitchen, peeling and peeling and peeling, watching the numbers of lovely little onions build up in the protein jar and two other jars I found, gleeful to the very last tangy orb. They’re all in the oven now (just for storage!) on trays, covered in salt. Tomorrow I’ll rinse them, dry them and pack them back into the jars before covering them with spicy, sweet vinegar, banging the lids on, and letting them steep for at least six weeks.
Most of all at the moment I’m thankful for family – for this little household of ‘we three gals’ (plus or minus Niece and Neff, depending on the day), and the way I’m shown time and time again that love wins. It really, truly does.
I’m testament to it – I’m here.
And (ending on an optimistic note) I hope to be HERE a lot more frequently from now on. I’ve missed this. I’ve missed YOU.
I’ve missed US.
So…how have YOU been? ❤