I watched about two-thirds of the 9/29 presidential debate before my stamina gave out. I imagined standing in Biden’s shoes: Here I am. I will ignore his playground taunts, rise above, speak my truth calmly, abide by society’s rules of decorum. But holy mackerel, I would have broken.
Say what you will about this unshamable bully, he is a master provocateur. Dismissing his skillful arts – the arts of cultivating unrest, distrust, self-centeredness, and hatred – has been disastrous to our nation’s soul. And Biden, well, he tried. He didn’t break, but he was rattled. It seems like it would be easy to point out Trump’s multitude of defects, but how do you take on someone who has no regard for rules or civility?
I took my jangled insides – an embroiled tangle of fury, frustration, incredulity, and hopelessness – out of the room. How to recover? I went to bed with a book of poetry. There is a beautiful world out there. There is a beautiful world out there.
Like today. Before a backdrop of fall’s Candyland colors, three muskrats glided like tiny barges around the pond, leaving shining v’s of light across the water. I picked pink asters and held in my hand a black-and-white moth wing that I first mistook for a feather. I crunched over cobblestones of acorns and squashed dropped apples under my boots, releasing their apple-y pungency. A flicker’s white rump caught my eye as it bobbed through the air, fleeing my intrusion. I, too, am in flight, fleeing the intrusion of humanity’s underside, over-exposed, oozing its poison. But out here, with that electronic version of the world momentarily silenced, I felt a flicker of hopefulness. This world here, this world is equally real and with us. Just breathe.
Robin Clifford Wood is a writer and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband and dogs, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her grown children and their multi-species families.