We could do a commitment ritual, committing ourselves to some grandiose goals. But remember the adage about not making major decisions while grieving? Its because they don’t stick, and when you commit to something during ritual, that’s a sacred contract you don’t want to break.
Or maybe a ritual for grounding and centering ourselves, but maybe grounded isn’t what we need to feel right now. What we need to feel right now is everything we ARE feeling, whether that’s bewilderment, anger, fear, betrayal, loss…
To contain those emotions too soon is to stunt them. Painful and awkward (and potentially overwhelming) as it is, we need to let those emotions do their work.
So, that’s not the right ritual either.
I think the better question is whether this is the right time to do a ritual, and to that I can tell you with assurance and almost 30 years of experience – no, not yet.
Now is the time for grief, for processing. For us liberals, the rug has been pulled out from under us. We need time – time to grieve, to reassess and organize, time to get ourselves to a steady place so we can lead compassionately and fiercely from a place of power.
What To Do Instead of a Ritual
Because the sky is still beautiful. The birds are still singing. There's continuity and comfort there.
These days I value women’s reproductive rights, and being an ally to LGBTQ folks which is where my children’s values also lie. But in addition, the environment and educational issues are high on my list, though lower on theirs in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Knowing what I’m passionate about means I know where to focus my energy and my donations - of time and money. I’ll march on Washington for safeguarding my daughter’s right to choose, but not for gun rights. Yes, I know that’s super important but I’ve only got so much to give and if I’m all over the place, I’ll hit burnout for sure.
I’ve been developing this idea for a while, and here’s what I’ve discovered. In theory, I can do anything. But I’m better at some things than others. And there is an ideal situation to be had, a way of doing things that focuses on my strengths and comforts, and when those ideals are met it becomes…easy.
Forcing myself to do things outside my comfort zone takes a toll, which isn’t a deal breaker but needs to be taken into account.
An example, I can do the overnight for the homeless initiative in our town, but the idea of making a phone call to my local officials makes me break out in flop sweat. Can I do it? Sure. Might there be a better way do use my energy (because making that call could be the only thing I get done in a day if it goes poorly)? It’s worth knowing.
Writing down in my journal what an ideal situation would look like (I like to work with people I know, I need to go with another person, I work best if I’m doing something to support someone I love directly) I can pick and choose where to push my growing edges. I have a clear idea of what I can do easily, and what will be a stretch that requires rest and TLC of some sort afterwards.
Awareness, baby. It’s where it’s at.
And this, too:
Get comfortable with shining bright in the world.
If you're meant to lead, get to a place where you feel comfortable leading. If you’re meant to support, find folks to support. If you’re meant to be a voice in the wilderness, find your voice and build your platform.
And if your only call is to be okay in the world, for the love of all that is holy, be okay in the world and let it be enough. We need more of that, too.
Find out what that is and do it to the best of your ability.
Be willing to do it badly, too.
Be willing to stumble through that shit, and know who you have in your life to pick you up again.
Let. It. Be. Enough.
It never is; the world’s need is too great and anything that we do will naturally feel small, and like it’s in no way enough. Do it anyway. Because fuck it – it’s more in the world than there was before.
Have something to hold onto. Like the pain of childbirth, we’re going to forget how much it hurt to lose this election.
I mean, the holidays are coming up and there’s still all that laundry to do. Life goes on.
It can be helpful to have a physical reminder of what you want to get done in the world. On Halloween this year I made myself a new set of Story-Beads. On this set there is a reminder for monthly nature retreats (12 stones) as well as healing and an affirmation about having a prosperous as well as engaging business.
I need this now. More now than when I made it. As the months progress and we move into a Trump presidency, I’m going to want a callback to all this stuff I’m working through now. My Story-Beads will be that reminder.
Let us hope
it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.
Go. Build your Universe. Make room in it for others who love and support you. Make it sound and sturdy enough to invite in those that may differ with you, that may be afraid, that may just be dumb (because they need some love, too.) Build your Universe bright and beautiful, and let it shine out into the world, brave and true.
There will be time enough for rituals later.
Reading Resources from Around the Web
Another guy who understands the difficulty in explaining this to kids.
A piece to make you think about the other side with a little more compassion.
Why this turn-out feels like such a gut punch.
And while we're at it, this one explains it pretty well, too.
Nothing has changed/Everything has changed.
And my beloved Colbert who nails it and makes me realize I drank the poison, too, and I liked it.