Sunday Morning ~ Ikebana
November 11, 2018
Ikebana is the ancient Japanese art form of flower arranging. My son made a reference to it and said that Japan’s most accomplished generals had mastered this art, finding it calmed their minds and helped make clear their decisions for field action. I’d never heard of this and looked it up. I didn’t find references to military action, but read that it is a melding of nature and humanity. Preserving life, creating a representation of the spirit of the situation, honoring nature, and respecting humanity are some of the principles. I read that it is believed to foster patience and tolerance.
I think walking uptown last Sunday night was smart. George offered to hail a cab to spare me the mile or so trek up to 81st where we were staying, but my muscles were stiffening and I needed to move. I had Uggs on my feet, champagne in my queasy stomach, and something close to joy in my soul. I’m convinced exercise is the best treatment for depression, anxiety, and maybe even despair. I see how people get addicted to it. I’m reminded why I wanted to run another marathon, and though I was prepared to pay for it the next day, I think the late walk after the 26.2 mile run was why I felt so good (close to great) on Monday. Feeling chipper, we had a morning visit with friends, searched for their missing cat, shopped at Zabars, then drove eight hours home to canvas for the election Tuesday. We’d voted early, just in case some calamity prevented us from getting home. I have to admit, each time I’d heard of someone passing away in the weeks before the election my first thought was, “Did they vote early”?
Tuesday was rainy and dreary. Our team leader said, “This weather is only going to benefit us because our resolve is stronger than their illusion.” Loved that. Felt fired up. We were sent off the island to rural parts of the county. Many people weren’t home, most likely out at their minimum wage jobs, and I was a little worried about people feeling harassed. But most of the people we talked to were grateful we’d made the effort, eager to chat about their concerns for the future, and had already made a plan to get to the polls. One was frustrated that her absentee ballot hadn’t arrived and, being homebound, gave up on being able to vote. We tried to help her find a way to get to the polling place, but that required getting handicap transport which takes 48 hours notice, so we fell short there. We couldn’t get a motorized wheelchair into my mini. Our second shift was in a walkable neighborhood and that was fun until it started pouring rain. Most of the people there also thanked us, had already voted or were about to, and shared mutual hopeful thoughts. It was a good experience.
The walk back to the car, by road construction, was muddy and wet. The car was steamy, the windows foggy and we were tired. I worried George didn’t think our efforts were worthwhile. He wondered aloud if we’d even garnered one extra vote out of the entire day we’d spent finding houses and knocking on doors. I said it didn’t matter to me. I just felt if I didn’t do this and the results weren’t good, I’d have blamed myself for not getting out there and doing SOMETHING. I thought it was worth it if only to make me feel better.
We’d invited friends for dinner and to listen to the early returns. It felt important to be among like-minded souls in case the news wasn’t good. I’d prepared for disappointment before, but this time it would be like watching the country burn to the ground. We ate and talked. We drank wine. George hitched up his computer to stream live coverage. The talking heads were driving me crazy. The early results were not looking good. We disbanded early, myself heading into denial. I really did not want to look. I went to bed, turned off my phone, and in the morning, laid there pretending to sleep long after I’d ordinarily be up. I though about spending the day in my sewing room, avoiding the world. It’s where I instinctively go when I am upset. I take a pile of scraps and arrange them to make something useful. I mindlessly sew things together until it becomes something pretty. I was sure the news was bad.
George gave up on me and went to do errands. I finally got up and did mindless tasks in the silence normally occupied by NPR. I went to my cluttered desk to answer a few emails. It was nearly 10 a.m. and ordinarily I would have been listening to the news for almost five hours by then. I thought as long as I didn’t turn it on my world was still intact. Then a Move On email flashed across my computer screen that said, “We did it!” I thought, “We did? I’ve been hiding for nothing?!” And as I read the Maine results I got back some of that post-marathon glow. There is hope. When we gathered on the pier Thursday night to take a stand for justice, I thought again, there is hope. I’m glad to be part of this group of humans looking out for each other. I listened to the speakers and was grateful for intelligence and reason among us. I realize again, there are more of us. There is hope.
So time now to quiet the mind and be thoughtful about actions. Ikebana. I’m thinking about how to do this with minimal foliage and artful expression. It seems like good exercise.