Recently I've noticed myself asking and answering the "how are you feeling?" question, not regarding anything immediately physical but rather the state of our collective life and times. We have a new, devastatingly inept President and the last few weeks have seen a constant, unconsciounable exploitation of power. I've caught myself feeling and acting flummoxed more than once, unsure what my role is in this new world order. I've seen that sentiment reflected in my friends and colleagues, even as we are perched geographically and ideologically far away from the epicenter of harm.
The answer most of the time is, "You know, not great." Not great at all.
There's a large part of me that wants to numb that feeling, and because I'm someone with a fair amount of privilege, I have a number of tried and true tools available in order to make that happen. Exercise is an option, alcohol is an option, online shopping is an option, busyness is an option, the constant need for approval is an option. You name it. Everywhere I turn, avenues of distraction, normalization, and minutia present themselves almost effortlessly, and it takes very little for me to happily melt into them. It's relieving, after all, to deaden the discomfort and the ache. Those feelings were never meant to be pleasant, but I also don't think they were ever meant to be squashed; they have to be endured.
I have no recollection of the why or how of this (given my apparent aversion to all things competitive and sporty) but recently I was reading an interview with Joe Maddon, the coach of the Chicago Cubs. He was asked about how he handles the pressure of success and winning, and he replied that he refuses to focus on the outcome, but rather on the process because process is fearless. Process is fearless. If you do what you think you should do and stay true to the next right thing, the result will work itself out. In other words, you focus on what you can control and draw from the wisdom of others who have come before, and the rest was out of your hands anyway.
I find this incredibly comforting as well as liberating. There is always a next right step, and if we can assuage our anxieties long enough to stop and look, it is ever available. In this day and age, I am trying to take note from those who have come before and move forward as presently and congruently as possible. This means actively resisting the temptation to dilute or extinguish my anger. It also means showing up and paying attention in large but local ways, starting from my tiny radius of influence and moving outward, even and especially when it's uncomfortable, lonely, or risky. I'm not a natural organizer or activist, far from it, but the moment demands more.
Process is fearless. May we be as well.