Our New President, Gravitation Man

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, 

against gravitation.

Ladies and gentlemen, our new president, Donald Trump, Gravitation Man.


  1. Mary Nessel said:
    So it’s really hard to love through this outcome let alone catch my breath. Surrender has loss written all over it. So thank you. Got it!

  2. Frank Piazza said:
    Thank you, Steve for those thoughts. I don’t normally respond but felt inclined and had some thoughts I wanted to share… reader beware… there is red opinions below, written not nearly as eloquently as the author above. And so, as a supporter of the right side and those policies that drive me that way, I thought your post could have been written after the last election to echo my feelings of despair. It amazes me … boggles my mind… how there are so many smart, kind and loving people on both sides that can be at such huge odds. I am also in utter shock at the visual of the map broken down by counties/districts with the mass of red and very little blue everywhere except the city areas – it is impossible to see a blue win. But understanding population density explains the popular vote and close election…can cities and rural communities ever see eye to eye? I view balance in this outcome … like our system of government, designed for balance with the Congress/White House/Electoral College; I believe that the flip flops between parties every 4-12 years serves to create a balance in this country for the good of all (the universe balances). There is simply no in between and hence the only option for balance is a shift in power every so often and yes, that shift (which will come back the other way) (the balance), serves me too. I was hopeful after the last election in the face of defeat as I hope others will be this time around. I am excited for the future (though this is not the man I’d choose to lead my belief’s). I am also mindful of those that don’t share my excitement and I will look for common ground so we can fight on the same team. I vehemently disagree that those on the side of Trump are driven by bigotry, nor do I believe that there is more than a small percent that are racist. I believe they are driven by more basic needs/desires (jobs, security, religion, lawfulness) and simply a feeling that all that appeared to be important the past 8 years were far from those things that were important to the other half of the voters (and obviously many that were on the fence). More balance was needed, less agenda for other interests, and more love shown for another way of life. As it was, the last 8 years included many policies won with a razor thin margin, (like the Affordable Care Act) and many incidents of skirting the voice of the system and using “executive orders”. It looked like much was forced. I don’t believe there was leadership against bigotry quite honestly (saying nothing can send just as strong a message) (think violence against police officers). Those tactics did not unite and was part of what led to the change. Again, I hope for more unity and I pray that this man will do good. In the end, time will tell and the scales will shift and balance will be maintained. Oh the many minds of this world that can work so differently; quite a journey amidst chaos, love, perception, misunderstanding, hope, etc. etc.

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"I honor that we are killing the earth for the same reason I consider being an alcoholic a privilege: it is a doorway to the profound self-understanding required to make truly healthy choices."

The Essay: Honoring the Killing of the Earth