What do you do when the world has become so toxic, so utterly alien, so horrifying that you almost long for the small, deeply personal, lonely wounds that caused you so much pain all those years ago?
Knowing that I survived those things makes it possible to gaze back at them almost fondly. I had toxic friends, but they didn’t try to make me believe that devastating climate change would always be someone else’s problem. I struggled with mountainous uphill battles to find and reclaim who I really am but everyday kindness wasn’t something to strive for, it was a way of life for most, you saw people being kind to their friends, neighbours, complete strangers. I have felt fear, experienced poverty and been ground down by the realities of life…but not once would it have been acceptable to hurl rape and death threats to people because of their sexuality, religion (or lack there of) gender, ability or any of the other million reasons it happens every day now.
Yes, I own rose-tinted glasses. Yes, I know abuse and pain existed in the past. Yes, I know every generation has worried that the world was ending because things have changed faster than they were comfortable with.
But what do you do when 130 Americans are dying every day from opioid addiction and some of the reasons for that comes from a family who sponsors a place you find joy?
What do you do when the science educators you respect turn out to be abusers and misogynists? The science is still the same, but has the joy you felt at learning it been tainted?
How do you reconcile every person on Earth thinking of themselves as good and decent people when you watch them turn their backs to ignore the abuse of their neighbours because they’re black? When they vote for laws that only reward those who have enough anyway? When they walk past the blatant neglect of people most in need, because it doesn’t affect them?
You go deep instead of wide.
You rediscover the drawing, writing, walking. You read every book there is on Scottish cannibals, Egyptian glass making or the origins of the word Doily. You learn to master that thing you’re only vaguely good at. You stop dismissing as childish those things that make your eyes light up and your heart sing.
And if you have enough mental bandwidth and it is safe for you to do so you educate yourself, find like minds, decide on the cause deepest to your heart then you stand up and be counted. You vote every time you’re eligible to. You shout about injustices as they arise. You stop ignoring hateful comments and ‘jokes’ and you address them head on “I’m sorry, was that supposed to be funny?” “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you meant by that, please explain” “I disagree 100% and here’s why…”
Going deep builds you armour to wear when you step out of your front door, back into a world that appears to value wealth and status more than actual humans.