Can I Still Talk About Mundane Things in This Political Moment?

Today, I bought some pants online. Yesterday, I talked to my friend about dating. The day before that, my partner and I stopped in a small town an hour away to pick up our new favorite coffee from a local roaster.

And it all just feels so frivolous and self-indulgent in light of the current political climate.

I do not know how to be in these times.

I see protests erupting all across the country.

I see myself sitting at my desk.

Last night, I had the privilege of hearing Shaun King speak. He’s a man of deep conviction and piercing insight, and he issued a challenge to us to live with a mindfulness of how serious these times are. So much is at stake and so much effort is required. We have to make different decisions.

I have to be honest: I don’t know what to do. I am grappling with what my life choices, commitments, and everyday existence should look like in these times. I have bills to pay, and my dog needs to go to the vet, and I need to travel for work, and we have to find a new apartment, and we said we’d bring something to the potluck tomorrow, and…

I don’t know how to configure my life so that it is sustainable for me and also useful for radical sociopolitical change. And some days I even feel guilty for how much time I spend thinking about what I’ll eat for lunch. Some of this disorientation is, no doubt, a product of living in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere; I am geographically disconnected from masses of people. But some of it is the shocking realization that I am ill-equipped for this moment in history.  My ties to like-minded people and political groups are few and nebulous. My inner courage seems more like tissue paper than steel. There is also a lurking nihilism–especially as a Black, queer woman–rooted in the deep knowledge that this country was built on our backs and still grabs us by our kinky hair. It has never been interested in my thriving.

Whatever I do, it is only a drop in the bucket, and maybe my energy would be better spent figuring out how to just enjoy my life. But I don’t think I’ll be at peace knowing I had water to put in the bucket (even if just a drop), and I kept it all for myself.

Can I still talk about mundane things in this political moment? I think I have to for two reasons: 1) If I neglect the mundane things of my life, my life will become disorderly and all of my energy will go towards managing that chaos rather than going towards playing my part in revolutionary change. 2) It keeps me sane. I think I would go mad if I constantly thought about what’s happening in our country and our world. There has to be a reprieve…and sometimes it’s in a little town an hour away with the best coffee beans. But I do all of this with an increasing mindfulness of what this moment demands of me, of us. I have to grapple and figure it out and do my part. Anything else just might be morally indefensible.

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