The latest news -- because I can't ignore all of it -- is that 45 is working on ways to ignore and steamroll over the election results and stay in office. He doesn't care whether they're legal means or not.
A whole unofficial army of over-gunned, undereducated thugs is waiting for the word to start a second civil war and help 45 stay right where he is.
Folks I know personally are talking about real-life escape plans and survival strategies.
And in this strange time between the two holiest days of the year, I find myself trying to stay calm, to stay grounded and to figure out what MY strategy is.
Today I realized my truth, as I was practicing "Unetaneh Tokef" -- who will die by fire, or water, or vicious beast...
And I realized, in the way we first recognize our human mortality when we're younger, that moment when knowledge becomes visceral and you feel it all the way down to your bones for the first time, that I have no escape plan because I personally have no escape from the worst-case scenario. I have no survival strategy, because I don't think I will survive if things go truly and completely south. (And yes, you can read into that last metaphor whatever you like, and I'm not sorry.)
I'm 57 years old, unable to work full-time anymore but too young and still ambulatory to apply for disability. In order to remain functional, I rely on access to multiple doctors, specialists,therapies and medications that will become difficult or impossible to access in a violent national meltdown. When the supply chain dries up I will get sick. If the supply chain stays dysfunctional for too long, I will get sicker. And then I will probably die.
So I've decided that I am no longer going to worry about it.
The only road available to me at this point is to live the life I've been blessed with; to be grateful for the many students whose lives I've impacted in even a tiny way (because that's my immortality on earth); to share my stories and songs with people; to hold my loved ones close and love them for as long as I can draw breath; and to understand that while death means the end of my body, it may not mean the end of my soul, my Is-ness. Is this reincarnation? I don't know. But it's something and I'm going to work on embracing the prospect of non-visceral eternity, an eternity that transcends things and illness and bodies.
I don't know what my non-visceral self actually is; but I think that may be okay. Just knowing -- or even suspecting -- that I am a soul first, and reminding myself of that again and again whenever I get scared about the externals, is what I am going to focus on during the darkening days of fall and winter. I've decided that my non-corporeality is an upside, a blessing, a thing to be grateful for. When I say "Elohai neshama" each morning, I will consider that the breath of life may actually be something other than air, and the mystery of that possibility will keep me engaged, fascinated with what is right in front of me today.
Judaism doesn't dwell on the afterlife so much. What matters is now. And if I can stop fretting about how things could go south and focus on what I can do right now to put more love in the world, then I think that will be the very best response I can have to this current situation.
The world is struggling. We are all struggling. Maybe it just depends on what each of us chooses to struggle with, to strive for.
"Choose life," we are told in Deuteronomy. For 5781, I choose life. I choose to put more love in the world. I choose to embrace and comfort, to repair and to sing. I can't stop anyone else from choosing things that may end my human life on earth. And being true to my pacifist core, I won't go out of my way to take someone with me when my time comes. All I can do is what I can do now. So I will pray for strength to do just that, with as much love and curiosity and passion as I can muster, today and every day.
For those who are looking ahead to Yom Kippur, may you have a thoughtful fast. G'mar Chatimah Tovah.