86 hours, 47 minutes after the election results … a breakthrough moment

Nov 14, 2016 by

I have been a wreck since I woke up to the election results at 4:36 am on Wednesday, November 9 — sad, angry, confused, and obsessed with the countless articles in the media. I’ve been trying to find the sliver of hope, the crack of light. After drinking way too much alcohol on election night, … and the night after, shedding tears, staying in bed long after the sun rose, and hours of processing with friends, I finally gathered myself together and hit the trail to work IT out.

For me, being alone in nature, sweating, gasping for air, and feeling every muscle come alive is my therapy. I hiked five hours today and could have kept going if the sun wasn’t setting. I had a breakthrough moment, and although it may be a feeble approach to making sense of nonsense, I hope it helps others sleep better tonight, take a deeper breath, cultivate conviction to move forward, or start healing the deep wounds …

A little context — I am a white, privileged, educated, environmentalist, mother, professional woman. Those are a few of my labels. I have lived in San Francisco, CA for nearly two decades, and before moving west, I was raised in Virginia and North Carolina where my entire family still lives. I used to speak weekly with my parents, but over the past year, conversations have become increasingly challenging due to our polar opposite political views. We talk a couple times a month now. I have dedicated my life to environmental and social change, and my parents believe climate change science is a hoax — Trump is their man. So, what’s next — how can we coexist in a country that is so divided? As a Californian, I feel like a stranger in a strange land. Here’s my Draft 1 solution — I know their will be more iterations as this reality becomes more real.

  1. It’s time to get into training – build strength of mind and heart. Collectively we need to “wake up” and recognize that we are in a battle of differing values, different beliefs, and different points of view. The only thing I feel that I have in common with the 60,265,858 popular votes for Trump is the desire to “shake up” the political system and a love for America. As long as we live in such complete polar opposite spheres, change will only be incremental. Let’s commit to being peaceful warriors, agents of change which leads to my next point.
  2. Trump may want to build a wall between the US and Mexico and exhibit behavior as a big ass bully against Muslims, blacks, women, LGBT, … but we ALL build walls around us everyday. The walls of us and them. We think we are more enlightened, smarter, more fit, more empathetic, more progressive, …. We all do it — create the Grand Canyon between the Red States and Blue States (literally). The difference is that Trump says what he thinks, and most of us do it in silence. Hate is not an option but judgement is something we all do. We are all contributing to the great divide. It’s a matter of breaking down the walls and gaining a little more understanding of the “other.” I’m not suggesting Whoville, as lovely as that scene is at the end of The Grinch that Stole Christmas, but brick by brick, moment by moment, person by person.
  3. As peaceful warriors in training, it is our responsibility to use our assets, aka superpowers for change. My friend Margi is an amazing yoga teacher — she can heal through the practice. My friend Deb is a professor — she can heal through teaching. Countless friends are mothers — they can model listening, asking questions, healthy debate, … My friends Jill and Julie create documentary films — the art of storytelling. My friend Mike owns a hotel company — travel as teacher. My friends Deborah and Andy started an arts collective — outside their building, it reads “Hate Free Zone.” The list goes on and on. I am an experience designer and here is where my action comes into play.
  4. Through direct experience of genuinely connecting with others, listening, “getting in the ring” when necessary breaks down walls. I encourage every person who lives in the Blue States to make a trip to the Red States. Ideally drive from point A to point B. Be curious. Connect. Really listen. Participate. Those of us who are lucky enough to travel for leisure, we choose to jet across the globe to experience something totally different than our own reality, our culture, our traditions, our norm, and yet, most of us have little direct experience with the diversity of this nation. I ask everyone who was as floored, shocked, disgusted as I have been in this past week to visit our fellow Americans and start breaking down the walls. This dismantling will not be easy, and in some cases, our training and skills as peaceful warriors will not result in change. Don’t give up. To quote Gil Scott Heron, “This Revolution will not be televised.”

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