Life in the Box: Minding my Mind
It’s not that I’ve run out of things to say, not exactly. There are still lots of words going through my head. The problem is that the things I want to say have already been said. I’ve said them. I’ve written them. I’ve sent them to the people I’m worried about.
The problem is that my words, my research, my letters to the editor, my Facebook posts, my prayers, my discussions with friends, my essays and my phone calls (which is lots of words, really), have given my mind only a little relief. I’m starting to get a tiny bit bored with my own thoughts.
They wake me, sometimes. Well, many times, actually. They start spinning around certain themes: how could people belief the hateful, made-up nonsense on Fox? How can the people on Fox sleep at night (I can’t!) Why isn’t Fox News held responsible for the many Covid deaths they’ve caused? How can a media company justify lies that have almost overthrown the government? How can people I know–people in my neighborhood and my family–have missed the fact that Trump’s administration was inept, mean-spirited, and Fascist? And that Trump was a nasty piece of work? And that he was stupid and lazy? And that under his direction, people have been killed and harmed by Covid, in unimaginable numbers. And what about the kidnapping of children at the southern border? And what about the freaking police departments with all those cops killing black people? How can anyone justify these horrors?
And so on.
I’m familiar with my own thoughts. I think them regularly. I know that somewhere within, I believe that if I can only come up with the perfect selection of words and logic and compassion and outrage, that the world will change. That those unreasonable people will agree with me. That they will see the light. Finally.
But lacking any evidence that my words have changed the thinking of others, other than supporting those who already agree with me, I have been trying something new.
I have been talking with the part of myself that repeats things. The part of me that has so much outrage and hope and determination. The perfectionist in me that thinks, “if only I say it right…” I have been talking with her about being satisfied. About being happy that she has been saying enough about these important topics.
She talks back to me, “But of course it’s not enough. Look, the cops killed more black innocents today. Look, the Trumpers aren’t taking vaccines. Look, the Governor and state officials are making it illegal to teach that Black Lives Matter. Look, they’re making it harder to vote.”
I tell her, “All of that is true.” Then I say the important thing, “You are not alone.” Oh.
Good. Hmm. We’re not all Gandhi or Navalny, we can’t be. If I went on a hunger strike (God forbid!), thousands of people wouldn’t take to the streets. That’s not my role, and being as public as I am, I have never had a following. I’m not that blessed/cursed. It’s not all on my shoulders. Thank goodness.
I’m just a little bird, using little words, singing my song. And that is as it should be. Chirp, chirp, chirp. A cardinal one day, “What Cheer! What Cheer!” A blue jay the next, “Chomp-Chomp-Chomp.”
One bird’s song does not fill the forest. It’s not supposed to.
My brain is still thinking of words and compelling arguments and looking to understand why these horrible problems can be ignored and twisted. But I am training myself to hear other people’s words, to notice the many articles and essays and creative expressions of reasonable, informed and caring people, and to appreciate not being alone. To appreciate the chorus of “just right” notes that create a stirring symphony.
The symphony doesn’t cover up the discordant noises of racism, Trumpism, and the intentional spread of a deadly disease. It’s not trying to cover it up. If anything, the symphony is commenting upon and pointing out the problems. Bringing the insanity to consciousness and pleading with the nation’s conscience. The great composers of the world don’t try to exclude the darker feelings and notes of tragedy. Grief must be expressed.
My inner wordsmith is expressing grief in the only way it knows how, by spinning words. Meanwhile, my greater self is learning patience and the power of “being with.” We are not alone. We are surrounded by people who want something better. Look, we’ve got a new President and administration that’s scrambling to fix things. They can’t fix it all at once, and they can’t fix it without all of us.
No single one of us is all-powerful. At the same time, we have the power of being one of many. In a democracy, we hope that will be enough.
Nancy Heather Brown is a retired, Emmy Award-winning television producer whose career has included interviewing, writing, narrating and editing for a span of four decades. Today, she enjoys learning new things and reflecting upon the creative process and life issues, both inside and outside the box. Her opinions are her own, and are not necessarily those of this web site.
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Nancy, you’re a great wordsmith and you have eloquently expressed the frustration of many while also offering an off ramp on how to how to deal with them in a healthy way.