I didn’t wake up angry.
Sure, maybe I was a little despondent about waking up alone, on a perfectly cold and cloudy Saturday morning, slivers of light peeking under the window shades, a ribbon of gray hiding under the door. It was probably near noon, and I was cozy and snoozy under a puffy white comforter, in no hurry to be vertical. Yes, it would have been much nicer with company; someone to snuggle with for a little longer, to offer a dirty chai and maybe a bit o’ breakfast while we curled up under a blanket on the couch and turned on the fireplace. Or, you know, someone who’d want to stay in bed with me for a few hours more.
But I wasn’t angry. I was relaxed, mostly content, and happy to have no commitments for the day. No reason to leave the warmth of the house, with plenty of food in the fridge, and about 1.2 million episodes of miscellaneous TV to stream. I wouldn’t get out of pjs until nearly sundown, if I could help it.
So I rolled over and reached for my phone, happy to scroll through my friends’ previous evenings’ adventures, and Instagram a few photos from late the night before, maybe check Snapchat.
My mistake was opening Twitter.
I try to go easy on current events on Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath. I feel like a break from the everyday is healthy, and respects the commandment to separate the seventh day from the rest of the week. I don’t tend to check my work email on my computer (unless I get a text from my team that something is going down), I don’t ask Alexa for my flash briefing. If I’m driving somewhere that day, I don’t turn on NPR until after the headlines are over.
At least I didn’t.
But, crap, there’s just no easy way to avoid the bad news and outrage that’s happening in Washington, every fucking day. I’ll get sucked in by a pal’s Facebook share from CNN, or I’ll click through on a tweet from one of my active and angry tweeps. And then I’m angry, too.
So. Damn. Angry.
All the time, it seems. With every new impingement of our democracy, embarrassment for our country, insensitive remark, or authoritarian overreach, my stomach clenches up, and I start retweeting, sharing, replying, and piling on. It doesn’t feel good. But it feels necessary. It’s not all I do, of course. I donate, make calls, and will step up as needed.
I often feel held hostage by the daily news and my own outrage. Sure, I take deep breaths, I tone things down around Simone and reassure her. I go to work, and to restaurants, and to the gym. But due to the nature of my job, and the nature of my personality (always connected, always online), the reminders of the crap that’s happening, and the incensed energy of my friends and colleagues (and the smug satisfaction of the people who still think this is a welcome course correction), make my heart rate go bonkers again and again.
But then I’ll read something beautiful, or listen to music that makes me happy. I’ll talk to my sisters or my mom, or I’ll cuddle up with Simone for our nightly snuggle-and-reading session, or I’ll settle in at a favorite bar with a boulevardier and good company, and I’ll remember what it’s like to live in the magic that surrounds us in the day-to-day.
I’ll be in the moment.
We all need sweetness and beauty in our daily lives, whether we’re for or against the current administration. We need to clear the lowering clouds over our knitted brows and breathe deeply. We need to remember what we’re trying to protect. We need to be civil and gracious to each other.
We need to create more beautiful things to share with the world around us.
And we need to read and listen to and watch (and eat, of course!) more beautiful things. This steady diet of toxicity isn’t good for us, for either side. The more happy, hopeful, redemptive, upbeat content we consume, the more likely we are to be in a pleasant, generous, and gracious mindset. We’ll smile more, we’ll laugh more, our hearts will feel better. Our blood pressure will equalize, our jaws will unclench, and we’ll be more likely to recognize the humanity of the people around us.
Of course, we should also remain informed and active. We should fight and protest and take action. But we can’t take care of our country if we don’t take care of ourselves. If we run ourselves down, immerse ourselves in the outrage and toxicity without pause, then we’ll lose the sense of self we need to function and to live well and to fight back.
So that’s what I’m going to do.
I’m going to write more happy things, listen to more happy music, watch more happy and beautiful movies. Eating and drinking the best that the world has to offer hasn’t been a problem for me, so I’m going to keep doing that, too.
I’m pretty smiley in general anyway, so I’m going to continue to smile at strangers, say “please” and “thank you” and tip well and be kind. I’m going share more positive content on my social channels, and continue to focus on how I make the most of life every day.
I’m going to get back to doing yoga regularly, because it helps me remember to breathe.
And I’m going to try harder to unplug from current events on Saturdays. I’m not sure how that’s going to work, yet. Maybe I won’t look at Twitter at all, or maybe I just won’t retweet current/angry content. Maybe I’ll lay in bed a little longer without checking my phone, and maybe I’ll keep my computer closed. Maybe I’ll try a little harder to find people to spend time with out of the house, rather than cocooning on the couch all day. Whatever it is, I need to make Saturdays peaceful and hopeful again.
And maybe the energy from that day will radiate peace and hope and graciousness as the new week begins.
I’m going to give it a shot, anyway.