Thursday, November 10, 2016

The dream, The Chosen, and the reality

Yesterday morning, the day after the election,  I awoke from a bad dream at 5:30 am.  I don't remember too much about the dream.  There was one part where I was watching men landscape the grounds at my sons' school.  I'm not sure if I was happy about this or angry in the dream (in reality I would be very, very happy since I'm usually the one doing the landscaping at my sons' school) because from what I can remember the dream soon switched to me throwing a full-on temper tantrum.  I even picked up M and threw him at someone (no small feat, considering he's over 50 lbs and 4'2.")

I woke up startled and moody as a result, and I felt that the dream was a foreboding.  I don't think I'm a modern day Cassandra since it didn't take a rocket scientist on election night at 10 pm to see where things were headed.  I look at the campaign as one gigantic temper tantrum, so perhaps my unconscious mind was just playing it out for me.

My day yesterday was uneven.   I felt out of sorts, a bit uncertain that reality was jiving with me.  Unpleasant dreams can do that.  So can unpleasant campaigns and elections.

I heard an interview yesterday in which a Republican discussed her confusion about whether to vote for Trump in the general election.  She voted for him and when asked how she felt now that he had been elected she said, "Terrified."  I'm not sure how I feel about people voting for a person that instills them with terror once elected (since that was an obvious possibility of running in an election). However, I must admit that my own feelings had Clinton been elected might have been a decided, "I feel uncertain." (This would mostly be because I suspect unhappy Trump supporters would be behaving exactly as unhappy Clinton supporters are now.)

Back to the temper tantrum theme again.

On election day, because I couldn't tolerate too much social media, I opted to complete my annotating of Chaim Potok's The Chosen.  I had read it before, but I will be teaching it to my high schoolers in the spring, and that requires more careful study and consideration.

It was a balm to me to reread this story---the story of two boys, both Jews, but decidely different types of Jews, with decidedly different interests and academic strengths, with decidedly different home lives and relationships with their fathers.  And despite these differences, there is friendship between them, even in the midst of angry words and lashing out at each other because they are a safe haven in which to lash out.

This is a book that made me cry the first time I read it---if the final chapter doesn't tear at your heart, you might not actually have one.  It is a book in which love and suffering and compassion are deeply entertwined.

This is not a book of feel-goodness, of platitudes and optimism and "we love each other; we're all the same" like what I see as I check-in but am not currently participating in social media.  I put little store in platitudes.  If you know me at all, you know I am not a "love you to the moon and back" person.

What I do put store in is meaning....depth....development and change as a result of discomfort and pain and suffering.  I put store in my own experience that whatever I've gotten too easily I have forgotten or not valued as I should have.  What has changed me the most has been difficult and has pushed me to the far corners of my comfort zone.

What I put store in is my firm belief in the Golden Rule, and that regardless of how anyone else lives their lives, I can live no other way than to treat others the way I want to be treated, even if on the inside I am vexed and uncomfortable and apprehensive and uncertain and all the things that I am right now.  Even if I feel like yelling at people and being downright nasty because I am overwhelmed with said vexation and discomfort and apprehension and uncertainty.

I feel quite certain that no matter who won this election, I would be feeling these things but for entirely different reasons.

It made me happy to have spent my day gaining perspective from literature.
It made me happy to be here last night, with my Girl Scout troop, doing community service by hanging out with children whose parents are learning English as their second language.
It made me happy to see their faces light up when I used my very limited Spanish to try to make them feel welcome.

It was a day of living a meaningful life and living the Golden Rule and modeling both of these things to others.

Not a bad ending to a day that began with a nightmare.

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