Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. ~ Desmond Tutu
May 1. The first 100 days. Over. Check.
You have to believe that this stuff will sort itself out…don’t you?
What was it my grandma used to say? It’ll all come out in the wash. Wise words. Simple words. These are words I’ve recalled many times in my life. Somehow they stuck. I always feel better when I repeat them, then chuckle as I realize I’m tossing them out again in conversation.
Yes, that line goes way back. I remember wondering where the expression came from. In my Grandma’s day, the wash was generally hung on the line. Eventually she had a washer/dryer, but my favorite image is the square clothesline apparatus that swung around a pole in her backyard. My family, too, often hung some of the wash out on a line to dry in the fresh air and sunshine. Nowadays, even if we don’t hang our laundry out on the line, we appreciate the symbolism.
I’ve always used the expression in the same sense as dictionary.com’s definition from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary:
A problem will be solved or difficulties will disappear. For example, Don’t worry about the fight you got into—it’ll all come out in the wash. Cervantes had this metaphoric use of laundry for cleaning up a mess or difficulty in Don Quixote (Todo saldrá en la colada) and it has been repeated ever since. [ Early 1600s ]
Around since the 1600s. Hmmm. Well, there’s something about the laundry image… and even sorting it out…and piling fresh, clean clothes into the basket that feels naturally transforming. We can dream, can’t we?
One hundred days: Fascinating and bizarre stories – in each and every of them. It’s been a chaotic adventure beyond measure (for me, anyway), navigating these weeks since January 20. I’d wondered how I’d manage: troubleshooting the first 100 days – and the next four years of this profoundly different presidency.
For one thing, I’ve noticed that my blog seems to be more like a quarterly report of my life, rather than the features and inspirational ideas I love to write about. Lately, my ‘writer’s pen’ feels locked up in a pen – self-imposed or not – and I can’t find the key to open the gate. The short term, I suppose, is writer’s block. That’s always seemed alien to me. Always, words seemed to easily flow. What is it about this time that’s holding me back?
I got a little notion about it when I happened to hear a snippet of a mid-April interview with actor, and social activist, Harry Belafonte. What he said astonished me. Belafonte was discussing exactly what I – and many Americans of that generation– have been thinking. He said, – as near as I can remember the quote – I’m assuming now that we’ve gotten this far, America would be in a much happier place. A much happier place. Yes… I too, thought that by 2017 we’d be, globally, a much happier place.
It’s been an interesting first quarter of the year. In January, I was glad to be busy in Florida, helping prepare my husband’s dad’s home for sale – and glad to be there with limited media access during the presidential inauguration.
“When I get home,” I thought, “I wonder how I’ll handle this seismic change in American politics?”
After all, I’d made a resolution at the New Year to ignore as much as possible the new administration and go on with life as usual. My brother-in-law, who’s partial to this president, suggested that if it doesn’t affect me, I shouldn’t worry. OK.
Upon return in early February, I was thankfully further distracted from news programs by the family focus on my father-in-law’s 100th birthday celebration. Our daughter and son-in-law (who are sailing snowbirds) were up from their winter stay in Mexico for the event. When we do get a chance to visit, we relish our political discourse, even though generally coming from opposing viewpoints. These are healthy discussions; and I appreciate having someone close to honestly talk about these things.
Naturally, I said that my plan was to not watch so much news. I’ve gathered that many Americans
have felt the same about overindulgence in the daily news. Oh well, so much for resolutions. How was I to know the after-election news would become so chaotic and fascinating? When you’re a journalist at heart, it’s difficult to stave off that natural curiosity and interest in all-things-information.
So, by March I found myself addicted again. I found myself once again in the analyst mode – trying to figure it out, wondering about my personal path through the coming four years. I found myself wavering between despair and hope. Despair at realizing our cumulative laundry was truly tumbling in the wash. Hope, that time would sort it out.
Then, we went with friends to see the amazing Williamston Theatre production of 1984. Chilling performances brought back the memories and emotion of reading George Orwell’s book – required reading in school, back during the years of the Cold War with Russia. All those feelings were ramping up again in me.
Theatre Artistic Director Tony Caselli captured the essence of these thoughts in the program forward, as he suggested that, maybe it’s that Orwell is showing us a world where truth,empathy, love and hope don’t matter anymore. Not only ‘don’t matter,’ but have been actively stamped out. A world where honest connection between people has been eliminated, replaced with suspicion, isolation and fear.
How’s your well being these days? My doctor asked me that at my appointment in early April. Since then, I’m beginning to connect the dots. I’m not liking the picture taking shape; and I realize I have some work to do.
I hadn’t seen my doctor since December. I wasn’t surprised when she asked me about my well being. But then she seemed concerned about my general complaint about not getting the things done that I want to do. Hmmm. So, she asked me if I’m easily distracted and unable to focus. Wow, was it that visible? Of course, I had to admit – yes.
So then, what could possibly be distracting me, besides the usual family goings on of the past year or two? On the way home from the doctor, it occurred to me…an inkling of what might be part of my malaise. Another startling news headline popped up on my phone. Of course, I’m compelled to check it out. I realized, in the moment, that it’s fruitless to try to duck the news. It’s just not who I am.
I’m a news junkie. As an inquisitive individual, with a lifetime of writing about people and events, curiosity always gets the better of me. I’m constantly wanting to be informed. Because I’ve always been a writer, and because of my curiosity, I’ve rarely found it hard to put words to paper or screen. Until now.
Eureka… No wonder I’m falling down the rabbit hole. I wonder what the doctor would say if I’d thought to mention my suspicion about the roller coaster news cycle – over the past couple of years – affecting my daily focus. It’s like I’m addicted to a soap opera or a movie that someone is surely writing the script for right now.
As the weeks wore on, I’ve found myself more and more drawn in through the looking glass: to keep up with the latest in the bizarre world we wake up in every morning… to try to make sense of it all … to try to go to sleep in peace every night.
Warning: Contents under pressure. Those are words on an old-favorite, cozy, comfy crimson tee with a picture of a large battery on the front. It’s big enough to wear as a sleep shirt. I may as well have worn it to my doctor appointment. Contents under pressure.
Do you worry. Do you have anxiety about the world, maybe late at night? Someone asked those questions on the radio one day in regard to the volatile news cycle. My doctor might as well have asked me that. She’s trying to get to the bottom of my issues with stress, which doctors now know can adversely affect your health.
As for my shirt, ideally the words just breathe should be emblazoned on it. Contents under pressure: Just breathe. Just breathe. When will I get it?
While in December I opted to go rogue for hope, I’ve found that daily I flit between hope and despair. This roller-coaster news drama truly does affect me. So, how do I want to engage? After all, going rogue for hope requires the courage, grit and determination to … go rogue for hope.
Going rogue for hope requires the stamina to stay tuned – no matter what the daily news brings – and to strive for being in the happier place. Going rogue for hope requires doing our part to bring light into the dark places, to fill them with our own brand of color, our own blend of happy.
It’ll all come out in the wash, I declare to myself, daily. We’ll recover, I say. I’ll recover…from the reeling chaos of this transformational time. The next 100 days, the next four years of days, seem like trembling stars in a strange universe viewed through a massive black hole.
Friedrich Nietzche said, You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.
Have laundry basket, will travel – across the threshold, through the looking glass, down the rabbit hole, into this new universe. I’ll carry my basket, doing the little bit of good that I can, every day that I can…while I search for what is the path forward, find my voice again, be a dancing star… and leave a message.
On this May Day, I’ll remember that words matter; and I’ll share mine for as long as I’m able.