Yesterday, I warned the dogs: “I am at my limit.”
This warning was at a decibel level that surprised even me. I don’t think I have been that screechy-loud since the day about sixty years ago, when the gang playing Red Rover thought it would be funny to just let go when I ran full-tilt into their linked arms. They were standing in front of a brick wall.
The dogs slunk away. Theo went to lay by the door in wait of his other parent, who may only be seven-eighths at his limit. Henry went in his crate, pushed aside his nice fluffy pillow-bed, and crawled under the pillow-bed.
Which makes it pretty self-evident which of the dogs made the burglar alarms go off in all the synapses of my brain.
Of course, it wasn’t Henry alone who got me to that state.
I feel kind of sorry (afterwards of course) for anyone – human or animal – who is unlucky enough to display his stupidity at precisely the moment that someone is ready to explode. That poor “final straw” may had only been mildly annoying if the circumstances were only better.
But there it an accumulation of annoyances, and the poor fellow who is the last annoyance gets the wrath would have been more appropriately divided equally among:
- the calorie content of peanut butter
- reading the wrong use of ‘it’s’ and ‘its’ and ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ in the same hour
- the stain on my new shirt
- the abrupt ending of the lane I thought was the exit ramp
- the bill I was sure I had paid that I found under the bananas
- and of course, Politics.
Yes, the state of the country is bad for my dogs.
The hatred, the corruption, and even the basic lack of civility has raised my stress level to a constant red alert.
I feel like everything I have believed in, all the progress I have witnessed in human rights and equal justice, the sacred protection of our environment – all this is being dismantled.
I have always had difficulty comprehending how – throughout history – people who live in repressive regimes or under dire physical and economic conditions managed to continue to raise their families, smile at the small joys – or even find those small joys.
And yet they did and still do.
I am an optimist at heart. I do not believe that state of the world today is as dire as in other times in the course of our civilization. Yet I see the real threat to happiness is the same: that circumstances around us add a tension that is is cumulative. We may fail to see the small joys through the mire.
And the mire gets mir-ier. Just as it suppresses the light of joy, it darkens the small annoyances. They grow heavy in the mire. They add up. And some little thing becomes the last straw.
And although it is a little shallow of me, I also feel the stress of trying to stay out of the fray. I will admit that I worry that saying anything about this Administration and its policies will offend those who do not agree with me. I have so few followers on this blog and on Twitter. I worry that I can’t afford to alienate anyone. I want people to read my novels. I look at Steven King – who can criticize the Administration, and anger tons of people – and he has still has millions of people who do support him. And he has the serenity (in the mire) of knowing that he speaks out when he sees something wrong.
Well, I am at my limit.
I no longer see it as a benefit to stay apolitcal. It no longer feels safe to play it safe.
I want the small joys to lighten my load. And I am failing at that, because the political situation and my silence weighs too much. Pretending everything is fine does not work in the long run. I don’t need to take to the streets or try to convince anyone of my own beliefs. I just have to stop hiding them.
Perhaps if I just admit that I am mad, I won’t be so mad at the wrong things.
So let me admit it.
I am at my limit.
I am angry. Angry about child separation and the horrible emotional and physical treatment of refugees. Angry about the rollback of environmental protections that are desperately needed. Angry about danger and mistrust that results when treaties are abandoned. Angry about racism. Angry about the demonizing of Islam. Angry about attacks on the press. Angry about the preference for dictators over our own democratic institutions and agencies. Angry about the misogyny. Angry about the lies. Angry about the name-calling and the meanness.
I am angry at Donald Trump.
Maybe by saying so out loud, my dog can come out from under his bed.