My beloveds have been in throes of anxiety since long before the election here on Tuesday. There has been a sense of general irritability, worry, and stress among US citizens–the presidential race, the increase in coronavirus cases and deaths, uncertainty around workplaces (do we teach in class or online? Do we take the subway to work? Is it safe to travel by plane?), terrible damage from wildfires and a long and busy tropical storm season.
The winter holidays, traditionally a time to gather together and to rally people into spending money on gifts, travel, and food? Hmm. Maybe not this year. Collective sorrow weaves around that situation.
I have felt the stress less keenly than my dear ones, it seems. I did not spend five days obsessing about election results, or anything else. No anxiety, because I’m grieving. My current grief arises as an in-facing state with a specific focus: my father’s death, and my mother’s diminishment. Whatever has been heaving and pulling in the State of the World can continue its way without me; I’m not needed there at present and can be patient with events as they unfold.
It is easier to take a “Zen” approach to society’s stresses when I am carrying inside myself a constant mindful love and an ongoing meditation on loss.
Ecclesiastes 3, especially verses 4-6, speaks to me deeply at present.
As does the Buddha:
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
You only lose what you cling to.