February 5, 2017

We’re all in this Car Together: How we can Survive the Road Trip we Didn’t Want to Take.

We are just a few months emerged from the longest, most painful, norm-breaking, value-shattering election any of us have ever seen.

We are only a few weeks removed from the most incredulous pre-inaugural season we’ve likely seen.

Now, just over two weeks (yes, it’s only been that long) into Trump’s presidency—seeing things I never thought I’d see—I am worn down and worn out. I am tired and crabby. I feel like I’ve been dragged on a road trip that I never wanted to take.

On this road trip I’ve been starving for wholesome truth and integrity, but found only lies, insults and backstabbing. I’ve longed for a hero, an expert, who would rise above and help navigate the unexpected detours, but many I’ve looked to have disappointed me. I’ve been run into by angry, oncoming traffic wearing now-infamous red hats. My radio has kept changing from Ed Sheeran to NPR. For entertainment, I watched politicians, journalists and TV anchors fold their values and morals like cards. And worst of all, I’ve yelled at my fellow passengers, my friends and family, for no other reason than to unleash frustration and fear, and then had to apologize for being a complete sh*t.

But chosen road trip or not, there is no doubt that I am now driving fully awake. Fatigued and disillusioned yes, but most definitely awake.

The constant affront to our collective values woke me up.

The daily onslaught of hateful, bigoted, racist, sexist comments from people in positions of power and authority, who should know and model better, woke me up.

The regular accosting of our sensibilities and our most basic common decencies woke me up.

The promised coming assault on the earth, human beings and humanity woke me up.

I know am not alone. The crowd sizes, energy and passion shown at the Women’s Marches around the globe prove that many of us are now awake. The fight for truth and justice displayed by climate scientists, park rangers, cab drivers, journalists and immigration lawyers proves that many of us are now awake.

I want to take a moment and breathe in gratitude for this collective awakening.

In some ass-backwards way, this election season and its result accomplished what yoga and all spiritual practice aims to do: lift the veils of confusion and denial so we can see the raw, unpolished truth.

We could even say we’ve had a collective Kundalini experience: Suddenly and dramatically, the blinders came off and we saw the world for what it is. Uncomfortable and ugly as it may feel, this awareness—our awake-ness—is the catalyst that can help us reclaim what we love about our country.

But it is one thing to awaken, it is quite another to stay awake. If we fall back asleep now, I fear that nothing could reawaken us.

So let us shift our attention to the road ahead, to the work needed over the coming months and years. Our vehicle, that is, our civilization, is still in good working order. We are still in control of the car, still road-tripping together, hopefully not being sh*ts to each other anymore. But now it’s dark outside and the roads are icy. Shiny lights on the side of the road blink at us, trying to divert our energy and disrupt our necessary one-pointed attention from the road.

If those shiny lights succeed in hypnotizing us, we could swerve off the road—out of commission. If we drive too fast or too slow, we could lose control and roll the car—out of commission.

Yet we cannot afford to have a single truth-speaker or humanity-lover out of commission.

This involves every last one of us. Spiritually-minded people can no longer say they don’t want to get involved in “dirty” politics. Neither can food-eaters, education-wanters, equality-lovers, air-breathers or dog owners. Our lives and livelihoods are intertwined. We are one humanity. We are all in this car together.

No, we can’t fall asleep. But we must take rests, retreats and respites.

Stop by a friend’s house for a cup of coffee and a dose of connection. Stop by a stranger’s house for more of the same. Stop by a treehouse for a reminder of all that is rooted and grounded and growing in the world.

Then let’s get back on the road. Let’s take turns taking the wheel. Let’s try not to unleash frustrations and fear on those we love, because we are not each other’s enemy. We cannot allow ourselves to be divided, for that is exactly what the powers-that-be want.


Author: Keri Mangis

Image: Nickolai Kashirin/ Flickr

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

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