After going to bed election night long before the results got interesting, I figured it a sign when I got up at 1AM and stepped into dog poop on the living room faux oriental. It was such a rare occurrence; our three boys have an entire mountain at their disposal. Upon cleaning the rug and washing my feet, a check of my laptop confirmed the poop’s forecast: Donald Trump’s chances of winning had soared to 95 percent. Not my desired outcome, but since I’m close to monotonous in my esteem for every event (and yes, I do include a shoelace in our soup right along with death) as, more than anything else, a call to grow our capacity to love, I soon identified a few gifts of Trump’s Triumph––all with far more reaching impact than the universe’s scatological humor at my expense.
Immediately, was this: “Well, we didn’t listen in the aftermath of 911, we’re not listening all that well to the implications of climate change and a host of other reminders, what did we expect was going to happen?”
That’s how the universe works, according to me. In every situation, we are being encouraged to pay attention to the choices we make, why we make them, and their impact on ourselves and others. Actually, It’s not encouragement; it’s a demand, since becoming ever more mindful is the only way we can live in harmony with why we’re here in the first place: to awaken to our unity with all of humankind, to acknowledge our absolute dependence on our planet for life, and to grow our ability to welcome whatever comes our way.
When we ignore, deny or resist this perpetual call to expand, the universe doesn’t get pissed. The universe is nothing but love. Pissed isn’t part of the equation. The universe knows it’s holding all the cards, that we’re going to wake up sooner or later; the only question is when. So, lovingly, the universe reminds us again to pay attention. And again. And again. Each time with a little more juice, a little more intensity, a little more heat. For many of us (and I raise my hand), it can take a godawful string of those reminders before we say to ourself, “Hmmm, maybe I should think about making a different choice. Maybe juggle those six chainsaws without the blindfold.” In fact, not infrequently, before something dawns on us, the universe has to basically give us a glimpse of our future if we don’t shift––sunbathing naked at the crocodile family reunion––and whisper with the voice of Leonard Cohen, “Sweetheart, what’s it going to be, life or death, love or fear?” It’s happened to me more than once.
I hope the election of Mr. Trump––and all the anger, hopelessness and disappointment that fueled his win––is one of those crocodile moments for every one of us who is ripe to raise their skill at paying attention. It is an especially sacred event that sparks a special quality of despair I hope we all get to experience: the despair that leads to a commitment to go to any lengths never to be in this situation again.
Would this level of commitment have seemed so imperative if Hillary had won? Somehow I doubt it, at least not for those of us who feel that Mr. Trump’s ascent puts in play the potential for unprecedented harm to the human family.
That was my first thought.
The second was this: “I don’t ever want to ignore or forget the fear that so many people in America and around the world feel for themselves and their family as a consequence of Mr. Trump’s election. At the same time, I don’t ever want to ignore or forget those people whose fear led them to become Trump supporters.”
At risk are Muslims, Mexicans, women, the undocumented, anyone who isn’t white, anyone who isn’t straight, and so on. And I’m not just talking about the risk associated with legislative action or the consequences of the Supreme Court’s composition. One outcome of Mr. Trump’s victory is the justification of viciousness by ordinary citizens against anyone considered to be “different” in any way. And fear is what both victim and perpetrator share, handcuffed together by it.
I wonder if the most important message of Mr. Trump’s supporters––particularly those who, as voters, had been invisible until this election––is not hatred or intolerance, per se, but what’s under those expressions, a statement far more simple, and worthy of attention: “We feel helpless because our nation does not hear us.” That so many of Trump’s opponents, me among them, have been mystified as to why others find him compelling is a telling reflection of how much ground there is to cover when it comes to Americans understanding one another. I don’t mean agreeing with one another, but understanding one another––for that is the foundation of any healthy relationship, any healthy community, any healthy nation.
With that I went back to bed. Easing into sleep, my heart says: “One more thing: Offer what’s most important to you.”
Perhaps the two greatest gifts that come with being human are the power of breath and the power of choice. Breath allows us to navigate life’s vicissitudes with a certain softness, grace, a cool mind and a warm heart. Choice is most evident in the reality that how we define our world actually creates our world. One way I define my world is this: Donald Trump’s election, and all the uncertainty that comes with it, is a gift. It asks of me, obliges me, to be more relentless in all I must surrender, and all I must embrace, to grow a peaceful heart and die unafraid––as I serve my fellow passengers on spaceship earth.
In that spirit, I’m reminded of a sentiment I’ve carried around for a couple of decades at least––from the poet T.E. Hulme:
The bird attained whatever grace its shape possesses
not as a result of the mere desire for flight,
but because it had to fly in air,
Ladies and gentlemen, our new president, Donald Trump, Gravitation Man.