Sunday Morning ~ Trusting Our Teeth
Kacirombo kofula m’njira katama mano. ~ The insect that digs a hole on the path must trust it’s teeth.
~ Chewa proverb
January 10, 2021
I spent a restlessTuesday night worrying about the outcome of the Georgia runoffs. I was tortured by imagined images of two possible futures and my mind played a recurring loop of both. First I’d think of losing the two senate seats and living in a world where sad women in black coats with ill-fitting triangular head scarfs tied under their chins tromped through snowy streets to food lines. Their heads were bowed against the wind; they carried stale bread in their baskets and had thin soup on their tables. They had wrinkled joyless faces. The images are all in black and white. These were photo images I saw in my childhood of life behind the iron curtain, a strange and dangerous place. Then I’d imagine winning the senate seats and a future of hearty meals in warm well-lit kitchens, summer vacations in short shorts and tank tops, rosy futures, first homes, career opportunities and good health, all in National Geographic color. I tossed and turned and wondered which it would be? I finally fell asleep by willing myself to believe the rosier future was in store.
When I woke a couple of hours later, I felt optimistic. I thought just maybe it was going to be a good day. I saw that Warnock had won, and though his opponent was a weaker one (I thought) it gave me hope for the second seat. When it started looking better and better for the technicolor future, I was able to focus on a sewing project and put the news aside. I was on pins and needles, literally and figuratively, and wanted to keep myself busy. I pulled out my new sewing machine. I threaded it and wound the bobbin. I gathered what supplies I needed and began to sew. I was actually happy. The kind of happy you feel when you realize the terrible sickness you’ve been afflicted with is definitely getting better. The way you feel when the fever breaks and you have an appetite again. The feeling of relief when you realize you will be able to take that vacation you’d been planning. That kind of happy.
I went to get a cup of tea and saw a few messages on my phone. I read them and ran for my laptop to lifestream the news. I was shaking. All I could think of was first graders hiding in closets. The black, white, and grey future flashed before my eyes again. I thought about being a school girl and learning about governments collapsing, wars beginning. I could not believe this was happening. I had flashbacks to all the betrayal in my life, all the people I trusted to keep me safe, letting me down. I felt confused. I started panicking and needed to calm my heart rate. I took deep breaths. I paced. I wished I were with someone else. And this, I thought, is from the comfort of my living room. I’m safe by my fire. How are those people hanging on? My heart is beating out of my chest and they are hiding under tables?! Again, I thought of kindergarten students. I thought of teachers having to practice this drill. I started knitting to keep my hands from shaking. I prayed for them and everything I believe in to hold.
Since then I have listened almost continuously to news reports, pundits, speculators, optimists, and fatalists. I’ve reread parts of the constitution. I’ve learned more about prosecution and conspiracy. I’ve thought about having a child-like faith in institutions I never really understood to protect me, protect us, my kids, my grandkids, people I don’t even like. I tried to list all past events we’ve survived that might have been similar: Pearl Harbor, Cuban Missile Crisis, 9/11. I did all this to reassure myself we’d be ok. I’m relieved when I hear a reassuring voice saying something I want to hear. We’ll be ok. We will survive this. I start to panic again when I hear the opposite. I think of the possibility my brother could have been there and that makes me shake again. I think of people in countries who live with this for years and years, futures uncertain, governments unstable, lives expendable. We’ve been so sheltered and coddled.
I recalled a poem I read years ago, a few lines of which I repeat to myself when I am confused and unsure. I tried to find it so I could cite the author but my internet search turned up nothing. The lines I remember are:
Two horses fighting, one white, one black
Which one will win?
The one you feed the most.
Again, the one you feed the most.
A black man and a jewish man won senate seats in a state famous for it’s racism, while white supremacists staged a coup on our government. Which future will win? The one you feed the most. Again, the one you feed the most.
Love to all,