I’m Done Drinking the Draught of Despair
I’ve been feeling tired, depressed, and overwhelmed. I’m having a hard time concentrating, and I’m mad at seemingly unimportant things. I know what this means. Mirah Curzer described it perfectly in this piece that you absolutely must read. In it, she stated something that I never before thought would pertain to me:
“Most of us are not ready to take on the mantle of the resistance. There are things we can do now to get ready, but if we don’t, the ranks of would-be activists and resisters are going to thin out very quickly.”
When I read that, my first thought was, “Ha! Ask a Black person about resistance.” But that’s a stupid thought, and I knew it immediately.
Things are different now, and the “Standard Black Resistance” is a false equivalency of resistance in this new regime. The levels of racism and xenophobia we’re seeing now are in no way normal, even taking into account America’s long-standing love of racism and xenophobia.
Do I really need to destroy this horcrux?
Until recently, my social media stream was primarily positive. My consumption of negativity was relatively small, and limited to normal bread-and-butter American racism and misogyny. That I can handle.
Now things are different. Now the negativity I swallow includes the frontal assault on everything: woman’s rights, science, the media, the arts. The attack is against everyone who’s not a white nationalist Christian and everything else those who are squatting in Our People’s House want to destroy.
This is a lot to handle for any of us. Especially for someone who tends to consume information at a pace that is already unhealthy.
But I read it all. All of it. Because I need to know it all. I need to see it all. I feel like I’m standing in a cave of darkness drinking the draft of despair because I’m the only one who can destroy the horcrux it protects.
Of course that’s a damn stupid thought.
Drinking this liquid is not helping me accomplish anything. It is certainly not helping me sustain myself for what will need to be a significant and sustained effort. More to the point: it is actively harming me.
I am not ready to take on the mantle of the resistance.
So I have decided to make myself ready. I’ve signed off Twitter (except for automatically posted things like Medium essays). I’m not drinking the despair from the media firehose. I’m not on Facebook, but am stepping away from basically all other social media.
I’m also limiting myself (for the moment) to two news subscriptions: The Washington Post (U.S.) and The Guardian (Britain). I will periodically check in with Al Jazeera (whom I write for as well), the BBC, The Hill, etc., but I’m not following the big aggregators.
Overall, when looking outward, I am limiting myself so I can stay informed without drinking the entire draught of despair.
Looking inward, I will be focusing on things that increase my energy and strength, rather than drain them.
One of those things is writing. I will be focusing much more on writing — writing for the resistance. Mostly focused on essays and books. My goal is to write much, write well, and write strongly. Writing will be my weapon.
I can only write strongly for the resistance if I am not writing cleverly for tweets.
Another thing I’ll be focusing on is my family. I don’t want to miss my kids’ childhoods while I’m constantly checking on destruction caused by President Trump. I also need to focus on walking that balance between allowing them to have a good and fun childhood while simultaneously turning them into the soldiers of civil rights I want them to be. I need energy and strength to keep this balance. I can’t sew up Luke Cage costumes for Halloween if I’m constantly distracted by social media.
The last big thing I’ll be focused on is local organization. Working with local community leaders to help make my region resilient, strong, and safe — especially for the +25 percent Latinx population we have living here.
Local organization will allow me to make tangible steps at protecting and supporting actual people.
There are other focuses too: yoga, reading history and fiction, hiking, meditation, seeing our local friends more, playing music, baking bread (even though it’s too fatty and my wife will kill me). In short, I will be focusing on the positive things that make a life worth living. We all, every one of us, should be doing more of this.
How to find me
If you know me well, you probably already know how to find me.
I have also left my Twitter DMs open, and routed them to text messaging — so until my texts become a house of monsters, you can reach me that way as well. But note that I probably won’t respond via Twitter, because that would mean signing in — and I don’t really care to do that for a while. If you DM me, leave an email or a phone number. (Update: People actually doing this made me realize Twitter only sends the first 120 characters in text, so that’s not the best method.)
Finally, let me end with some final words (formatted using an aesthetic decision that will make my friend Clay Rivers very happy):
I hope to see you all well and strong on the flip-side of this catastrophe! Peace!
This essay was originally published on Medium.