“Joy and Pain Are Like Sunshine and Rain”*

Well a whole bunch of us just felt like Whitney Houston in Waiting to Exhale. I mean just because we exhaled, not because we sing like her, or that her character in the movie is all that applicable. Because her man never left his marriage for her, but we just somehow got out of one heck of an arranged marriage. Anyway, a lot of exhaling, sighing, screaming, yelling, dancing, crying, shofar blowing, and champagne drinking has occurred these last few days. Woo and hoo!

Maybe because I’m in LA now I keep thinking of movie references which is pretty funny seeing as how I don’t really do movies. But I’ve been thinking how these last 4 years are akin to a horror movie where one never knows who or what is lurking around the corner/under the stairs/in the backseat /on the news. So you’re constantly on edge, so much so that it becomes normalized after a while. But in the meantime you’re getting eaten up by stress, which you deal with in some healthy (and not so healthy) ways. And then one day, voila!, you just get to walk off the movie set. Well, some of us do anyhow.

And this is where we wet blankets come in, with our warnings against complacency and misplaced revelry. Because we’ve seen this movie before – and there are sequels! Now, full disclosure, I voted for Bernie Sanders. I mean I voted hard for Sanders. I mean I wanted to see all the stuff our country was carrying around smashed onto the sidewalk like a giant bag of watermelons. And then I wanted to see us go to back to the store and start over with a whole new list. But alas. My son and I cried the day Sanders ended his campaign. But we moved on and continued to put our energies behind causes that we see now were all the more urgent considering the administration we were handed. But make no mistake, these causes have needed our attention for a multiplicity of years.

I voted for Biden, of course. And Harris. The latter definitely a more exciting choice than the former (because of the woman of color thing, not so much because of her stance on justice reform). Nothing against Joe, he just isn’t my personal idea of all that this country needs right now. But the bar is low so I, too, cried watching his speech, because Joe Biden actually acted like he was beholden to other human beings. Like someone else was in the room with him. I felt like a part of a collective that had just been reinstated.

So the “good” thing about this so-called President’s term has been that people who perhaps were a bit complacent up until 2016 went, “What the living hell is going on?!” and did some stuff. We need to keep doing stuff. A lot of stuff. Because there are a whole bunch of Americans who will be no better off, no more a part of the collective, after this transfer of power. We must remember that this was not some three and half year aberration that occurred. It was actually a bright fluorescent highlighter taken to the deeds and thoughts that have been practiced in this country for centuries. We absolutely deserve to let off a little steam — those of us privileged with the time and resources to do so. But then it’s back to work… for Black Lives and immigrant rights and healthcare for all and decarceration and your issue of choice.

I want to finish with a stanza from a Marge Piercy poem I have been sharing, introduced to me by a good, smart friend in Texas. (Yup they have those there)!

“The Art of Blessing the Day” ……………………………………. This is the blessing for a political victory:
Although I shall not forget that things
work in increments and epicycles and sometime
leaps that half the time fall back down,
let’s not relinquish dancing while the music
fits into our hips and bounces our heels.
We must never forget, pleasure is real as pain.

So tonight we dance, and tomorrow and the next day and the day after that we get back to work on earning our keep as citizenry and fellow humans. Always looking, of course, to mix in a little pleasure whenever possible.

  • From “Joy and Pain,” sung by Maze.

2 thoughts on ““Joy and Pain Are Like Sunshine and Rain”*

  1. You nailed the moment with this post, Katie. Early Saturday morning, I posted a picture on IG of a railroad track curving out of sight, with this caption: If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that you never know what’s around the next corner. I was thinking about the election that morning and realizing how much I had internalized the expectation of disappointment, the bracing for bad news–and sometimes, much to the dismay of my deep-rooted optimistic psyche–the feeling of actual dread about what’s next. Against all reason, I actually had the terrible feeling that we might lose that morning, because, well, that has been happening a lot lately. The deep relief and borderline glee I felt that day has morphed into something else–something I haven’t yet taken the time to name. This post has me thinking a lot about how to do that…


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